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Full text of "If - Worlds Of Science Fiction v01n01 [Quinn] (Mar 1952) (Gorgon776)"

WORLDS OF SCIENCE 



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MARCH 1952 
35* 



'if*' 



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'A 



.^•SL 



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TWELVE TIMES I 
By Howard Browne 
L ^/^* Rny Palmer j^ic 



' \f^ 




WORLDS OF 


SCIENCE FICTION makch mi 


s* 


All Stories New and Complete 


4t 


Publisher Editor 


II 


JAMES L. QUIMN PAUL.W. FAIRMAN 



NOVEL 

TWELVE TIMES ZERO by Howard Browne 

NOVELETTE 

THl HILL SHIP by Ray Palmer 



114 



SHORT STORIES 

■ITTiR VICTORY by Walter Miller, Jr. '58 
BLACK EYiS AND THE DAILY GRIND by Milton Lesser 76 

OF STiGNIR'S FOLLY by Richard S. Shaver ' , 88 

NiVER yNDIRESTIMATE by Theodore Sturgeon ff 

THl OLC MARTIANS by Rog' Phillips 137 

THl STOWAWAY by Alvin Heiner ' ' 53 



FEATURES 




iDITORlAL 


2 


PERSONALITIES IN SCIINCI FICTION 


134 


GU6ST EDITORIAL 


14» 


CITATION 


151 


SCIENCi BRIiK 


153 


THl POSTMAN COMETH 


157 


' Cover by MARTIN KEY 





IF is publislieci bi-moiitUy by CJi'iJ™ Pabiishiag Clompany, Inc., Kingston 
New York. Volume 1, Ko. 1. Copyright 1952 by Quiiin .Publisiuiig Compaay, 
Inc. Applicatioa lor Entrs' zs Second Class matter at Post Office, Buffato, 
New York, pending. Subscription |3.50 for 12 issues in U.S. and Possessions; 
Canada $4 for 12 issues; elsewhere' $4.50. Allow four weeks for change of 
address. All stories apjjearing in this magazine are fictioB, Any similarity 'to 
actual persons is coincidental, 35e a topy. Printed in U.S.A. 

NiXT ISSUi ON SALI MARCH STH AT VOOR LOCAL NEWSSTAND 



A chat with the editor 



» 



I ,«#*™#S^S^^«rf"«*»N#^^^^s»N,Se^#««i'«s*^»,^».^^i*»»Srft",^M#"i*P*«#^ 



THIS IS the first issue of a new 
science fiction magazine called 
IF. The title was selected after 
much thought because of its brevity 
and on the theoiy it is indicative of 
the field and will be easy to remem- 
ber. The tentative title that just 
missed was BEYOND TOMOR-- 
ROW, but when we woke up one 
morning and couldn't remember it 
until we'd had a cup of coffee, it 
was summarily discarded. 

A great deal of thought and ef- 
fort lias gone into the formation of 
this magazin,e. We have had the aid 
of several very talented and gen- 
erous people, for which we are most 
grateful Much is due them for 
their warmhearted assistance. And 
BOW that the bulk of the formative 
work is done, we will try to main- 
tain IF as one of the finest books 
on the market. 

WE HAVE spent a lot of thought 
upon what we can do to cause 
a- great public demand for our 
magazine. In short, why will you 
hm IF? 

We cannot, in honesty, say we 
will publish at all times the best 
science fiction in the field. That 
would not be true. But we will have 
access to the best stories, and we 
will get our fair share of works 
from the best writers. 

We deEiiitfjIy will not talk 



"adult" or "juvenile" relative to 
our content as we feel .su,ch terms 
are niisleacling. We would rather 
think at all times in the terms of 
"story". 'Some of the greatest es- 
capist literature ever written. 
Treasure Island for instance, could 
be put' into either category or both. 
And if Edgar' Rice Burroughs is 
juvenile, then so are we, because 
the late master has given u.s some 
memorable thrills. 

Frankly, we don't think you'll 
buy IF because you feel we print 
■better yarns than any other mag. 
You will buy it, we hope, because 
you like its perfionality. Every 
magazine, we feel, does have a defi- 
nite personality of its own. This 
personality is usually a reflection of 
the editors, their way of thinking, 
their appreciation of the market, 
their interpretation of what you 
will like best in stories and 'art- 
work. 

We have tried to make IF differ- 
ent from any other science fiction 
magazine on the stands while still 
building it along the lines of what 
every science fiction, mag must be. 
Aside from the letter coiumns and 
the editorial, which are depart- 
ments of field-wide use, we have 
not copied any feature of any other 
magazine. We will not, for in- 
stance, review fanzines, because we 
feel that is being most ably done 



by other mags. Nor will we, as a 
general practice, review books be- 
cause that appears' to us to be over- 
done. 

IN SHORT, we're trying to buijd 
a personality of our own and 
hope thereby to establish an affinity 
with a large number of readers who 
will remember IF when they buy a 
science fiction mag as one they like 
and wish to continue reading. 

At all times we %¥ill hew to the 
story-line and will exhort with our 
writers to ' do .the same. As • an ex-- 
ample, when Howard Browne 
phoned to talk over the plot for his 
lead novel in this issue, he de- 
scribed what -ivas without doubt a 
staggering premise, a really star- 
tling concept. "But," he mourned, 
"I suppose I'll have to bend it 
around to give them the good old 
conventional ending." 

We told Howard, "Not for IF, 
chum. Remember the old creed we 
live by. A writer may cheat on his 
wife, but he is ever true to the 
story-line. He may haul Ms iflfant 
son around by one leg, but he car- 
ries a good story-idea like a holy 
relic. If there is only one logical 
ending for Tioelve Times Zero, 
that's the ending we waot." 

Therefore, we do not feel the 
majority of readers necessarily want 
a happy ending regardless of all 
else. Not when it is iiicompatable 
with tlie aura of realism created by 
the writer. 



^A checl-list of iction master- 
pieces certainly bears this C3ut. The 
furor created by a little piece called 
Sorry, Wrong Number would cer- 
tainly not have been forthcomings 
had the bedridden lady been res- 
cued in the last paragraph. Romeo 
and Juliet would have beep nothing 
more than the smooth effort of the 
world's greatest writer if Romeo 
had gotten there in time. Yet, in 
modem fiction, he gets there in 
time with such amazing regularity 
one feels he has memorized at least ' 
a dozen time-tables. The result has 
been unnuiabered carloads of medi- 
ocre fiction. 

Also — though we don't wish to 
underscore the point too ht^avily— 
what could more surely have 
smothered the greatness of ffuther- 
ing Heights than a happy ending? 

WE DO NOT wish to indicate 
that IF will be a magaziBe giv- 
en over to tragedy. We will only in- 
sist that our writers create scenes 
and climaxe.s that fix the story rath- 
er than cater to that old "cieMI" 
formula. 
^ And in so doing we have an en- 
tirely selfish motive. This: As the 
years go by, we want to look back 
with personal pride upon an ever- 
lengthening list of great stories. 

So the book you now hold in 
your hands is a ne%v one titled IF. 
We hope you will like it — not for 
just a day— not for just a month. 
But for years to come. pwf 




FoUce gritted Mm mercilessly., while 
efes from a hundred worlds looked on. ■ 



l-WUlLWlg 



times 

HIS® 




By Howard Browne 



It was a love-triangle murder that made to- 
day's headlines but the answer lay hundreds 
of thousands of light years away! 



turn BROUGHT Mm into 
one of the basement rooms. 
He moved slowly and with 
a kind of painful dignity, as a man 
moves on his way to the firing 
squad, A rumpled shock of black 
hair pointed up the extreme pallor 
of a gaunt face, empty at, the mo- 
ment of all expression. Harsh light 
from an overhead fixture winked 
back from tiny beads of perspira- 
tion dotting tile waxen skin of his 
forehead. 



The three men with him 
watched him out ,ef faces as ex- 
pressionless as his own. They were 
ordinary men who wore ordinary 
clothing in an ordinary way, yet in 
the way they moved and in the way 
they stood you knew tliey were 
hard men who were in a hard .and 
largely unpleasant business. .■ 

One of them motioned casually 
toward A straight-backed chair al- 
most exactly in the center of the 
room. "Sit there, Cordell," he said. 



HOWARD BROWNE 



A quiet voice, not especially deep, 
yet its seemed to bounce off the 
|>ainted concrete walk. 

Wordless, the young man obeyed.- 
Sitting, he seemed as stiff and un- 
compromising as before. The man. 
who had spoken made a vague 
gesture and the o%'erhead light 
■ %vent out, replaced simultaaeously 
by strong rays from a spotlight 
aimed full at the eyes of the seated 
figure. Involuntarily the young 
man's head turned aside fb avoid 
the searing brilliance, but a hand 
came out of the wall of darkness 
and jerked it back again. 



"Just to remind you," the quiet 
voice continued conversationally, 
"I'm Detective Lieutenant Kirk, 
Homicide Bureau." A pair of hands 
thrust m second chair toward the 
circle of light. Kirk swung it 
around and dropped onto the seat, 
resting his arms along the back, 
facing the man across a distance of 
hardly more than inches. 

In the pitiless glare of the spot- 
light Cordelias cheekbones ■ stood 
out sharply, and under his deepset 
eyes were dark smudges of exhaus- 
tion. His rigid posture, his blank 
expression, his silence — these 



WHEN THE PLANS for IF 
were laid out, our firit idea was 
to stage the scoop of the cen- 
tury: Get the lead novel from How- 
ard Browne, editor of .4MAZING 
STORIES. No greater bc»st could 
be given an infant publication than 
Browne's name on the cover. We 
asked Howard and lie asked his boss, 
Mr. Davis, and Mr. .Davis said, 
"Sure," 

AMAZING STOilES is the 
oldest science-fiction publication In 
the world. It has the largest circu- 
lation in it$ field and up to January 
7th (the day IF went on the 
stands), AMAZING_ was the best 
science fiction magazine your money 
coiiH buy. It has the best writers in 
the field. Its departments are ex- 
cellent with Rog Phillips doing the 
fanzine reviews and Sam Merwiii 
reviewing the books. So if yoti have 
a spare quarter, get a copy of 
AMAZING. You can't go wrong. • 

And now, alxiiit Howard Browne. 
He is a liage man, made w alaiost 
entirely of vast enthasiasms. We 
have known Howard intimately for 
about six years and we continue to 



regard him with awe. There is no- 
middle ground with this man. When 
lie likes sometking, it's terrific! If 
Howard hung a picture in hi» office 
we doubt if it would be a casual 
chore. The liaiiimer he used would 
be a, terrific liaminer,' The tack he 
drove would outsliade other tacks by 
five country miles. And the picture? 
Gad, what a masterpiece! 
, Seriously, one has only fo view 
Browne's enthusiasm for living to 
know it for what it is — a priceless 
gift. He has writtea unnumbered 
short stories and, under the name 
of |ohn Eyans, is the father of 
Paul Pine, hero of the HALO series, 
the last of which was HALO IM 
BR.4SS, and the next of which will 
be HALO FOR HIEE out in the 
near future. We have watched Mm 
write several of his stories and lie 
hurled himself into each with a zeal 
and a zest that- stunned us into a 
partial paralysis. 

So we give you Howard Browne, 
a hard fellow to classify; an astound- 
ing mixture of Balzac, a ten-ton 
dynamo, and Peter Pan. But this 
above all— ^a great guy. 



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TWELVE TIMES ZERO 



seemed not so much indications of 
defiance as tliey did the result of 
some terrible and cleepseated 
shock. 

"Let's go over it again, Corclell," 
Kirk said. 

The youn,g man swallowed 
audibly against the silence. One of 
Ms hands twitched, came up al- 
most to his face as 'though to shj,eld 
Ills- eyes, then dropped limply back, 
"That light---^" he mumbled'. 

"—stays on," Kirk said brisk- 
ly. "The quicker you tell us the an- 
swers, the quicker we all relax. 
Okay?" 

Cordell slicxik his head numbly, 
not so much in negation as an ef- 
fort to clear the fog from Ms tor- 
tured mind. "I told yoii," he cried 
hoarsely. "What , iiiofe do you 
want? Yesterday I told you the 
whole thing." His voice began to 
border on hysteria. "What good's 
my trying to tell you if you won't 
listen? How's a guy supposed—" 

"Then try telling it straight!" 
Kirk snapped. "You think you're 
fooling around with half-wits? 
Sure; you told us, A crazy 'paclc of 
goof-ball dreams about a blonde 
babe clubbing two grown people to 
death, tfien disappearing in a ball 
of blue light! You figure on cop- 
ping a plea on insanity?" 

"It's tiie truth!" Cordell shouted. 
"As God hears me, it's true!" Sud- 
denly he buried his face in his 
hands and long tearing sobs shook 
his slender frame. 



ONE OF the other men reached 
out as though to drag the 
youag man's face back into the 



withering rays of the spotlight, but 
Kirk motioB,ed him away. Without 
haste the Lieutenant fished a cigar, 
from the breast pocket of Ms coat 
and began almost leisurely to strip 
away its cellophane wrapper. A 
kitchen match burst into flame un- 
der tlie flick of a thumb nail and a 
cloud of blue tobacco smoke 
writhed into the cone of hot light. 

"Cordell," Kirk .said mildly. 

Slowly the young man's shoul- 
ders stopped their shaking, aod 
after a long moment his wan, tear- 
stained face came back into the 
light "I — I'm sorry," he mumbled. 

Kirk waved away the layer of 
smoke hanging between 'them. He 
said wearily, "IjCt's try it once^ 
more. Step by step. Maybe this 
time . . ." He let the sentence trail 
off, but the inference was clear. 

An expression of hopeless resig- 
■ nation settled over CordelPs fea- 
tures. "Where do you %vaiit me to 
start?" 

"Take it from five ■o'clock the 
afteriioon It happened." 

The tortured man wet his lips. 
"Five o'clock was when my shift 
went off at the plant. The plant, in 
case you've forgotten, is the Ames 
Chemical Company, and I'm a 
foreman in the Dry Packaging de- 
partment." 

"Save your sarcasm," Kirk said 
equably. 

"Yeah. I changed clotlies and 
punched out around five-fifteen. 
Juaiiita had called me about four 
and said to pick her up at Pro- 
fessor Gilmore's laboratory," 

"At what time?" 

"No special time. Just when I 



8, 

could get out there. We were go- 
ing to have dinner and take in, a 
movie. No particular picture; she ' 
said we'd pick one ©ut of the pa- 
per at dinner." 

'•Goon." ' 

"Well, it miistVe- been about 
quarter to six' when I got out to 
the University. I parked in front of 
the laboratory wing and went in 
at tlie main entrance. I walked 
down tlie corridor to the Professor's 
office. His typist was 'kEocHng out 
some letters and there were a cou- 
ple of students hanging around 
waiting for him to .show up. How 
about a smoke. Lieutenant?" 

Kirk nodded to one of the men 
behind him and a package of ciga- 
rettes was extended to the man un- 
der the light. A match was prof- 
fered and the young man igaited 
the white tube, Ms hands shaking 
badly. 

The Lieutenant crossed Ms legs 
the other way. "Let's hear the rest 
of itj friend." 

"What for?" Bitterness, tinged 
CordelFs, voice, "Yoti don't believe 
a word I'm saying."- 

"Up to now I do." 

"Well, I said something or other 
to Alma— she's the Prof .s secretary 
—and went on through the door 
to the hall that leads to the pri- 
vate lab. When I got—" 



Ka'K HELD lip a hand. "Wait 
t minute. Your bustiBg right 
in on the Professor like that doesn't 
sound ' right. Why not wait in the 
office for your wife?" 

"What for?" Gordell squinted at 
liiin in surprise. "He and Tget . . . 



HOWARD BROWNE 

got along fine. When, Juanita irst* 
went to work ■ for him he said to 
drop in at the lab any time, .not to 
wait in tlie outer office like a fresh- 
man or something." 

"Go ahead." 

"Well . . ." The young man hesi- 
tated. "We're back to the part you 
don't beEeve, Officer. I can't hard- 
ly believe it myself; but so help me, 
it's gospel I saw it!" 

"Fm waiting." 

Cordell said doggedly: "The lab 
door was open a crack. I heard a 
woman's voice in there, and . it 
wasn't .my wife's. It was a voice 
like — like cracjsed ice. You know: 
cold andtind of . . . well . . . brittle 
and — and deadly. That's the only 
way I can describe it. 

"Anyway, I .sort of hesitated 
there, outside the door. I didn't 
want to go bulling in on something 
that wasn't none of my business . . . 
but on the other hancj I figured iny 
wife was in there, else Alma 
wouldVe said so." 

"You hear anything -besides this 
collection of ice cubes?" 
' The yoimg man's jaw hardened. 
"Fm giving it the way it happened. 
You want the rest, or you want' to 
trade wise cracks?" 

One of the men .behind Kirk 
lunged forward. "Why, you cheap 
punt—" . 

Kirk stopped him with an arm. 
'TU handle this, Miller." To Cor- 
dell: "I asked you a question. An- 
swer it." 

"I heard Professor Gilinore. 
Only a couple words, then two 
quick flaiies of light lit up the 
frosted glass door panel. That's 
when I heard flie.se two thumps 



TWELVE' TIMES ZERO 

like when somebody falls down. I 
shoved open the door fast . . . and 
right then I saw her!" 

Kirk _ nodded for no apparent 
reason and was careful 'about 
knockmg a quarter inch of ash off 
his cigar. "Tell me about her." 

The young man's hands were 
shaking again. He sucked at his 
cigarette and let the smoke come 
out with his words: "She was clear 
over on the other side of the lab 
. . . standing a good two feet off the 
floor in the middle of a big blue 
ball of some kind of — of soft fire. 
Blue fire that sort of pulsed — you 
knowi Anyway, there she was: this 
hell of a good-looking blonde ; look- 
ing right smack at ■ me, and 'there 
was this funny kind of gun in her 
hand. She aimed it and I ducked 
just as this dim, flash of light came 
out of it. Something hit nie on the 
side of the head and I . . . well, I 
guess I blanked out." 

"Then ivhat?" 

"Well, like I said yesterday, I 
suppose I just naturally came out 
of it. I'm all spread out on the floor 
with the damndest lieadache- you 
ever saw. Over by the window is 
the Prof and — " he wet Ms lip.s— 
"and Juanita. They're dead. Lieu- ' 
tenant; just kind of all piled up 
over' there . . . dead, ttieir heads 
busted in and 'the — the — the — " 



HE SAT there, his mouth work- 
ing but 110 sound coming 
out, his eyes staring straight into 
the .blazing light, the cigarette 
.siBouldering, forgotten, between 
the firet two ingers of his left hand. 
Almost gently Kirk said: "Let's 



go back tO' where you were stand- 
ing outside the door. You heard 
this woman talking. What did she 
say?" 

Gordell looked sightlessly down 
at his hands. "Nothing that made 
sen.se. Sounded, neai' as I can re- 
member, like: 'Twelve times zero' 
- — then some words, or more num- 
bers maybe — I'm not sure — then 
she .said, 'Chained to a two hundred 
thousand years'— and the Prolessor 
said something about his colleges 
having no idea and he'd warn them 
—and the blonde .said, *Three in 
the past five month.?'— and then 
something about taking in wash- 
ing^" 

The detective named Miller gave 
a derisive grunt. "Of all the god- 
dam stories! Kirk, you gonna listen 
to any — " 

Kirk silenced him with a gesture. 
"Go on, Cordelh" 

The young man slowly lifted the 
cigarette to his mouth, dragged 
heavily oo it, then let it fall to tJie 
ioor. "That's all. That's when the 
lights started flashing in there and 
I tried to be a hero." 

"Sure youVe left nothing out?" 

"You've got it all. The truth, Eke 
you wanted." 

Kirk said patiently, "Give it up, 
Cordelh You're as sane as the next 
guy. Give that .story to a jury and 
they'll figure you're tiying to make 
saps out of them — and when a jury 
gets' sore at a defendant, he gets 
the limit. And in case you didn't 
know: in this State, the limit for 
iTi'urder is the hot seat!" 

The prisoner stared at him 
woodenly. "You know I didn't kill 
my wife — or Professor Gilmore. I 



10 

had no reason to — no motive. 
There's got t© be a motive.** 

The police officer rubbed his 
chin reflectively. "Uh-hunh. Mo- 
tive. How long you rnarriedj Cor- 
dell?" 

"Six years." 

"CMldreii?" 

"No." 

"Ames Cliemical pay you a good 
salary f 

"Enough." 

"Enough for two to live on?" 

"Sure." 

"Ho%f long did your wife work 
for Professor Gilmore?" 

"Foiir years next month." 

"What was her fob?" 

"His assistant." 

"Pretty big job for a woman, 
wasn't it?" 

"Juanita held two degrees in 
niiclear physics." 

"You mean this atom bomb 
stuff?" 

"That was part of it." 

"Gilmore's a big name in that 
field, I understand," Kirl said. 

"Maybe the biggest," 

"Kind of young' to rate that 
Mgh, wouldn't you say? He 
cotilda't have been much past 
forty." 

Cordell sliragged. "He was 
tliirty-eight — and a genius. Genius 
has nothing to do with age, I hear." 

"Not married, I understand." 

"That's right." A, slow fro%fii 
was forming on Cordell's face. 

"How old was your wife?" Kirk 
asked. 

The frown deepened but. the 
young man answered proniptly 
enough. "Juanita was my age. 
Twenty-nioe." 



HOWARD BROWNE 

Martin Kirk eyed liis cigar cas- 
ually, "m^hy," he said, "did y»u 
want her to %valk out on her job; 
to give up her career?" 

Cordell stiffened. "Who says I 
did?" he .snapped. 

"Are. you denying it?" 

"You're clanm well right I'm 
denying it! What is this?" 



K 



ii,K WAS slowly shaking his 
lead almost pityingly. "On at 
least two occasions friends of you 
and your wife have heard you say 
you wished she'd stay home where 
she belonged and cut out this 'play- 
ing around with a mess of test 
tubes.' Those are your O'Wii words, 
Cordell." 

"Every guy," the young man re- 
torted, "who's got a working wife 
says something like that now and 
then. It's only natural." 

Kirlt's jaw hardened. "But every 
guy's wife doesn't get ■murdered." 

The other looked at him unbe- 
lievingly. "GfX)d God," he burst 
outj "are you saying I killed Juan- 
ita because I wanted her to stop 
working? Of all the—" 

"There's, -jiiore!" snapped the 
Homicide nian. "Wlien you passed 
Professor Gilmore's Kcretary in his 
outer office yesterday, what did you 
say to her?" 

"'Say to her?"' the prisoner 
echoed in a dazed *vay. "I don't 
know tliat I . . . Some kiddiBg re- 
mark, I guess. How do you expect 
me to remember a thing like that?" 

"I'll tell you what you said," 
Kirk said coldly. "It' goes like this: 
'Hi, Alma, You think the Profs 
through making love to my wife?' " 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO 

CordelPs head snapped back and 
Us^ jaw dropped in utter amaze- 
ment. "What! Of al^-^! You nuts? 
I Hever said anything like that in 
my life! Who says I said that?" 

WitHout haste K-irk slid a iiand 
into the inner pocket of his coat 
and brought out two folded sheets 
of paper which he opened and 
spread out on his knee. 

"Listen to this, friend," he said 
softly. " 'My name is Mis Alma 
Dakiri. I reside at 1142 Monroe 
Street, and am employed as secre- 
tary tp Professor Gregory Gilmore. 
At approximately 5 : 50 on the after- 
noon of October 19, Paul Cordell, 
husband of Mrs. Juanita Cordell, 
laboratory assistant to Professor 
Gilmore, passed my desk on his' way 
into the laboratory, I made no ef- 
fort to stop him, since my employer 
had previously instructed me to al- 
low Mr. Cordell to go directly to 
the laboratory at any time without 
being announced.' " Kirk looked 
up at the man in the chair opposite 
him. "Okay so far?" 
1 Paul Cordell nodded numbly. 

"'At the time stated above/" 
Kirk continued, reading from the 
paper, " 'Mr. Cordell stopped brief- 
ly in front of my desk. He .seemed 
¥ery angry about something. He 
said, "Hi, Alma. You think the 
Prof's through making lo¥c to my 
mife?" Before I could say anything, 
he turned away and walked into 
the corridor leading to the labora- 
tory. I continued my work until 
abotit five minutes later when Mr, 
Cprdell came running back into the 
office and told iile to call the po- 
lice, that Professor , Gilmore and 
Mrs, Cordell had been mtirdered. 



11 

" 'Since there is an automatic 
closer on the corridor door, I did 
not see Mr. Cordell enter the lab- 
oratory itself. I do 'know, however, 
that Professor Gilmore and Mrs. 
Cordell were alone in the labora- 
tory less than ten minutes before 
Mr. Cordell 'arrived, as I had just 
left them alone there after taking 
some dictation from my employer. 
Since I went directly to my desk, 
and since there is no entrance to 
the laboratory other than through 
my office, I can state with certainty 
that Mr. Cordell was the only per- 
son to enter the laboratory between 
5 :00 that afternoon and 5 : 55 when 
Mr, Cordell came out of the lab- 
oratory and told me of the murders. 

" 'I hereby depose that this is a 
true and honest statement, to the 
best of my knowledge, that it was 
given freely on my part, and that I 
have read it before affixing my sig- 
nature to its pages. Signed: Alma 
K. Dakin.' " 



THERE WAS an almost omi- 
nous crackle to the document 
as lieutenant Kirk folded it and 
returned it to his pocket. Paul 
Cordell appeared utterly stunned 
by what he liad heard and his once 
stiffly squared sfiouldcrs were 
slumped like those of an old man. 
•*! don't have to tell you," Kirk 
said, "that the only window in that 
laboratory is both permanently 
sealed and heavily barred. No one 
but you could have murdered those 
two people. You say you saw them 
killed by some kind of a gun. Yet 
a qualiied physician states both 
death.<i were cau.sed by a terrific 



12 

How from a blunt instrument "We 
found a lot of things around the lab 
yoE could have used to do the job 
—but no'tMng at all of anything 
like a projectile fired from a gun," 

The prisoner obviously wasn't 
listening. "B — but she — she lied!" 
he stammered wildly, "All I said to 
Alma DaHa was a couple of words 
■ , • — three or four at the most — about 
not working too hard. Why should 
she put me on a spot like that? I 
ju8t— don't- — get — it! Why should 
she go out of her way to make trou- 
ble . . ." Dawning suspicion re- 
placed his bewilderment. "I get it! 
You cops put her up to this; that's 
it! You need a fall guy and Fm 
dec—" 

"Listen to me, Gordell," Kirk 
cut in impatiently. "You kn,ew, or 
thought you knew, your wife was 
having an affair with Professor 
■ Gilmore. You tried to break it up, 
to get .her to leave her joh. She 
wasn't having any of that; and the 
more she refused, the sorer you got. 
Yesterday you walked in on them 
unannounced, found thero in each 
other'.? arms, and knocked them 
both off in a jealous rage. When 
you cooled down enough to see 
wfiat you'd done, you invented this 
wild yarn about a blonde in a ball 
of fire, hoping to get off on an in- 
sanity plea." 

"I want a lawyer!", Gordell 
shouted. 

Kirk ignored the clemaiicl. 
"You're going back to your cell for 
a couple hours, buster. Think this 
over. When yoti're ready to tell it 
right, I want it in the form of a 
witnessed statement, on paper. If 
you do that, if you co-operate with 



HOWARD BROWNE 

the authorities, you cao ' probably 
get off with a fairly light sentence, 
maybe even an outright acquittal,- 
on the old 'unwritten law' plea. I 
don't make aiiy^ promises. Gilmore 
was -a prominent man and a valu- 
able one; that might influence a 
jury against you. But it's the only 
chance you've got— and I'm telling 
you, by God, to take, it!" 

Gordell was standing now, his 
face working. "Sure; I, get it! All 
you're after is a confession. What 
do you care if it's a flock of lies? 
My wife wouldn't even look at an- 
other man, and not you or any- 
body else is going to make me say 
different. Tliat blonde tilled them, 
I tell you — and I'll tell a Jury the 
samt thing! They'll believe me; 
they're not a bunch of lousy fram- 
ing cops! You'll find out who's — " 
■ Lieutenant Martin Kirk wearily 
ground out his cigar against the 
chair rung. "All fight, boys. Take 
him back upstairs." 



Chapter II 



IT WAS a gray chill day late in 
November, and, by 4:30 that 
afternoon the ceiling lights were 
on. Chenowich, the young plain- 
clothes man recently transferred to 
Homicide from Robbeiy Detail, 
stopped at Martin Kirk's cubby- 
hole and sKd an evening . paper 
across the battered brown linoleum 
top of the Lieutenant's desk. 

"This ouglita interest you," he 
said, jabbing a chewed thumbnail 
at an item under a two-column 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO 

head half-way down tlie left side 
of page one. '*' 

COBDELL DBAWS DEATH NOD ^ 

Kiler of Wife and Atom Wizard 
to Face Chair in JaimAry 

Paul Cordell, 29, was today 
' doomed by Criminal Court Jastice 
Edwin P. Eeed to death by eiectro- 
eution the iiiornittg of January 11, 
for the murders of liis wife, Jaan- 
ita, 29, and her employer, world- 
famous nuclear scientist Gregory 
Gilmore. 

A jury last week found Cordell 
guilty of the brutal slayings de- 
spite his testimony that it was a 
mysterious blonde woman, floating 
in a "ball of bine ire," who had 
blasted the victims with a "ray 
, gtin" on that October afternoon. 

Ignoring the "girl from Mars" 

angle, alienists for the prosecotion 

proiioanced the liandsome defend- 

.. ant sane, and his attorneys were 

powerless to offset the damage. 

The final btow to Cordell's hopes 
for acquittal, howeYer, was admin- 
istered by the State's key witness, 
Alma Dskin, Gilmore's former sec- 
retary. For more than three hours 
she underwent one of the most 
- grilling cross-examinations in lo- 
cal courtroom . . . 

Kirk shoved the' paper aside. 
"Wiiat could he expect wlien he 
wouldn't even listen to his own 
lawyers? They'll appeal — they have 
to — but it'll be a wastp of time." 

He leaned back in the creaking 
swivel chair and began tO' unwrap 
th.e cellophane from a cigar. "In a 
way," he .said thoughtfully, "I hate 
to see 'that kid end up in^'the fireless 
cooker.' In tlii.s business you get so 
yo'u, can recognize an act when you 
see one, and I'd swear Cordell 
wasn't lying about that blonde and 
her blue fire. At least he thought he 



"13 

Ghenowich yawned. "I say he 
was nuts then and he's nuts now. 
What do them bug doctors know? 
I never seen one yet could count 
hi.s own fingers." 

The telephone on Martin Kir|:'s 
desk rang while he was lighting his 
cigar. He tossed the match on the 
floor to join a dozen ethers, and 
picked up the receiver. "Homicide; 
Lieutenant Kirk speaking." 

It was the patrolman in the 
outer office. "Woman out here 
wants to see you. Lieutenant. 
Asked for you personally." 

"What about?" 

"She woo't say. All I get is it's 
important and she talks to you or 
nobody." 

"What's her iiaiiie?" 

"No, .sir. Not even that. Want 
me 'to get rid of her?" 

Kirk eyed the mound of paper 
work on his desk and sighed. 
"Probably a taxpayer. All right; 
send her back here." 

A moirieijt later the patrolman 
loomed up outside tlie' cubbyhole 
door, the woman, in tow. Lieuten- 
ant Kirk remained seated, n,odded 
briskly toward the empty chair 
alongside his desk. "Please .sit 
down, madam. You wanted to see 
me?"' 

"You are Mr. Kirk?" A warm 
voice, almost on the husky side. 

"Lieutenant Kirk." 

"Of course. I am .sorry." ■ 



"WftW HiLE SHE wa.s being grace- 
W fill about getting into the 
chair. Kirk stared at her openly. 
She was 'worth staring at. She was 
tall for a woman and missed being 



14 

voluptuous by exactly the right 
margin. Her face was more lovely 
than, beautiful, cMefly because of 
large eyes so blue tliey were almost 
purple. Her skin was iawless, her 
blonde hair worn in a medium bob 
iuffed out, and her .smooth Etting 
tobacco brown suit must have been 
bought by appoptmeiit. She looked 
to be in her'rnid-twenties afld was- 
probably thirty. 

Her expression was solemn and 
her smile fleeting,, as was becoming 
to anyone calling on a Homicide 
Bureau. She. placed on a corner of 
Kirk's desk an alligator bag that 
' matched her shoes and tucked p^le 
yellow gloves the color of her 
blouse under the bag's strap. Her 
slim fingers, ringless, moved com- 
petently and widiout haste, 

"I am Naia North, Lieutenant 
Kirk." 

"What's on your mind, Miss 
North?" 

,She regarded him gravely, see- 
ing gray-blue eyes that never quite 
lost their chill, a thin ijose bent ' 
slightly to the left froro an en- 
counter with a druoken longshore- 
man years before, the lean lines of 
a sohd jaw, the dark hair that was 
beginning to thin out above the 
temples after thirty-five years. Even 
those who love him, she thought, 
must fear this man a little. 
• Martin Kirk felt his cheeks flush 
under the frank appraisal of those 
purple eyes. "You asked for me by 
name, Miss North. Why?" 

"Aren't you the officer who ar- 
rested the young man who today 
was sentenced to die?" 

Only years of practise at letting 
nothing openly surprise him kept 



HOWARD BROWNE 

Kirk's jaw from dropping. ". . .You 
mean Cordell?" 
"Yes." 

'Tin the one. What about it? 
What've you got to do with Paul 
Cordell?" 

'Naia North said quietly, "A great 
deal, I'm afraid. You see, I'm the 
woman who doesn't exist; the one 
the newspapers call 'the girl from 
Mars.' " 

It was what he had expected 
from* her first question about the 
case. Any murder hitting the head- 
lines brought at least one psycho 
out of the woodwork, driven by 
some deep-seated sense of guilt into . 
making a phony confes,sion. Those 
who were "harmless were cased 
aside; the violent got detained for 
observation. 

But Naia North showed none "of 
the signs of the twisted mind. She 
was coherent, attractive and ob- 
viously there was ^ money some- 
where in her vicinity. While the last 
two items could have been true of 
a raving maniac, Kirk was human 
enough to be -swayed by them. 

"I'm afraid," he said, "you've' 
come to the wrong man about this, 
Miss Nortli." His smile was frank 
and winning enough to startle her. 
"The ca.«; is out of my hand,s; has 
been since the District Attorney's 
ofB,ce took over. Why don't you 
take it up with them?" 



HER SHOHT laugh was open- 
ly cynical. "I tried to, the day 
the trial ended. I got as far as a 
fourth assistant, who told me the 
case was closed, that new and con- 
clusive evidence would be neces- 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO 



1-5 



sary to reopen it, and would I ex- 
cuse hiijo as he had a golf date. 
When I said I could give Hm new 
evidence, he , looked at his watch 
and wanted me to write a letter. So 
I' wrote one and his secretary prom- 
ised to hand it to him personally. 
Fin still waiting for an answer." 

"These things take time, Miss 
North. If I were you I'd^" 

"I even tried to see Judge Reed. 

I got as far as his bailiff. If I'd 

state my business in writing. ... I 

• did; that's the last IVe heard from 

Judge Reed or bailiff." 

Kirk picked up his cigar from 
the edge of the desk and tapped 
the ash onto the floor. "Shall I," he 
said, his lips quirking, "ask you to 
write me a letter?" 
, Naia Horth failed to respond to 
the light touch. *Tm through fill- 
ing wastebaskets," slie said flatly. 
"Either you do something about 
this or tile newspapers get the en- 
tire story. Not that I'll enjoy being 
a public spectacle, but at least 
they'll give me some action." 

"What do you want done?" 

She put both elbows on the desk 
top and bent toward him. He 
caught the faint odor of bath salts 
rising from under the ' rounded 
neckline of her blouse. "That man 
must go free, Lieutenant. He didn't 
kill his wife— or Gregory Gilniore." 

"Who did?" 

She looked straight into his eyes. 
"I did." 

"Why?" 

Slowly she straightened and 
leaned back In the chair, her ga2e 
shifting to a point beyond hi.s left 
shoulder. "Nothing you haven't 
heard before," she said tonelessly. 



"We met several months ago and 
fell in lo¥e. I let him make tlie 
rules . . . and after a while he got 
tired of playing. I didn't — and I 
wanted him back. For weeks he 
avoided me." 

"So' you decided to kill Mm." 

She seemed genuinely astonished 
at the remark. "Certaialy not! But 
when I saw him take tliLs woman — 
this assistant _of hi5, or whatever 
she was — into his arms ... I .sup- 
pose Twent a little crazy." 

'"Now," Kirk said, "we're getting 
down to cases. You know the evi- 
dence given at the trial — particu- 
larly that given by Gilmore's secre- 
tary?" '^ 

"Of course." 

"Then .you know this Dakin 
woman was in the laboratory until 
a few minutes before Cordell 
showed up. You know that nobody 
could have gone into that labora- 
tory without her seeing them. You 
know that Alma Dakin testified 
that there were only two people in 
there: Gilmore aiiA Juanita Cor- 
dell, So, Miss North, how did you 
get in there after Alma Dakin left 
and before Paul Cordell arrived?" 

"But I didn't." . 

The Lieutenant's air of triumph 
sagged under a sudden frown. 
"What do yoii mean you didn't?" 

"I didn't eater the laboratory 
after Greg's secretary left it. / was 
therg till along." 



Kirk's head came up sharply. 
"You whatr 
"I was there all the time," the 
girl repeated. "Since noon, to be 
exact. I planned it that way. I knew 



16 

everybody would be out- to loBcli 

between twelve and one, so I went 
to tile laboratory with the inten- 
tion of facing Greg there on Ms re- 
twrn. When I heard Mm and Mrs. 
Gordell coiijing along the corridor, 
I sort of lost my nerve and Iiid in 
a coat closet." 

Martin Kirk ha4 completely 
dropped his air of good-humored 
patience by this time. "You telling 
me you were hiding in there for al- 
most five hours without them 
knowing it?" 

Naia NortH shrugged tier shoul- 
ders. "They liad no reason to look 
in the closet. I'll admit I hadn't in- 
tended to — to spy on Greg. But I 
kept, waitiag for iiini lo say or do 
something that would prove or 
disprove he was in love with 
■Juanita Cordell, and not until his 
secretary left and he was alone with ■ 
her did I di,sco¥er what was be- 
tween tliem. I must have come out 
of that dark hole like a tiger. Lieu- 
tenant. They jumped apart and^ 
two people never looked guiltier. 
He said something particularly 
nasty to me and I grabbed up a 
short' length of siiiny metal from 
the' workbench and hit' him across 
the side of the head before lie knew 
what was happening, He fell down 
and the Gordell woman opened her 
mouth to, scream and— and I hit 
her too." 

She paused as though to permit 
Kirk to comment. "Go on," he said 
hoarsely. 

"There's not much left," the girl 
said. "I was standing there still 
holding that piece of metal when 
the door crashed open and the dead 
woman's husband ran in. He 



HOWARD BROWNE 

started to lunge across the room 

at me and I, threw the thing I was 
holding at hiau It struck him and 
he fell down. My only thought was 
to hide, for I reali2,ed I couldn't go 
out through the outer office, and 
the only window was tarred. So I 
hid ia that closet again. ' 

"It was only- a few minutes be- 
fore Paul Gordell regained con- 
sciousness. He staggered out of the 
room and dovm the hall and I 
could hear a lot, of excited talk and 
'Greg's secretary calling the police. 
Then I dida't hear anything af all 
for a moment, so I came out of the 
closet and- looked do-wn the hall. 
The oiB.ee door was clo-sed, but it 
seemed so quiet in there .that I 'tip- 
toed quickly to the inner door, 
opened it a crack -and peered 
through. The office was deserteci; 
evidently Gordell and Miss DaHn 
had gone out to direct the police 
when they showed up. 

"When I saw there was no one 
in the main hall of the building 
itself, I simply walked out and left 
by aao-ther exit. No one I passed 
even noticed me." 



FOR A LONG time after Naia 
North had finished, speaking, 
Martia Kirk sat as tliough- carved 
from stone, staring blindly into 
space. She knew he 'was thinking 
furiomly, weighing th.e plausibility 
of what he had hea.rd, tiying to ar- 
rive at some method of corroborat- 
ing it in a way that 'wo'cild stand 
up in a court of law. 

"Miss North." 

She came out of 3 reverie with a 
start, to find the Lieutenant's eyes 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO 

« 

boring into hers. "This shiny Iiunk 
of jjietaL you used: where is it 
now?" 

"I'm sure I wouldn't know. 
Probably some place in the labora- 
tory, unless somebody took it away. 
I do seepa to remember picking it 
^ up and tossing it ba.ck with se¥eral 
others like it on the bench." 

"Then it's still there," he said 
slowly. "Judge Reed ordered the 
room sealed up until after the trial. 
And then there's tlie closet, . . . 
Were you wearing gloves tliat after- 
noon, Miss North?" 

She said, "No. You're thinking 
of fingerprints?" 

' "If you're telling the truth," he 
said, "there's almost certain to be 
some of ^ your prints oii the inside 
of that closet door — maybe' €¥en on 
that length of metal, if we can find 
it." 

She said almost carelessly: 
"That's all you'd need to clear Paul 
Cordell isn't it?" 

"It 'would certainly help." He 
swung around in the chair, scooped 
up the tek»fjhone and gave a series 
of lapid-fire orders, then dropped 
the instrument on its cradle and 
turned back to where she sat watch- 
ing him curiously. 

He said, "A few tfiings I still 
don't get. Like ttiis business of your 
standing two feet off the floor in a 
ball of blue Hght. And the flashes 
of light just before Cordell heard 
his wife and Gilmore fall to.-tlie 
floor. Even the snatches of conver- 
sation he caught while still in the 
hall. He couldn't have dreamed all 
that stuff up — at least not with- 
out some basis." 

She had opened her hag and 



' . ^. ■ 17 

taken out a cigarette. Kirk ignited 
one of Ms kitchen matches and she 
bent her head for a light. He could 
see the flawless oirve of one cheek 
and the smooth cap of blonde hair, 
and he resisted the urge' to ,pass a 
hand lightly across both. Some- 
thing was stirring inside the Lieu- 
tenant — something that had long 
been absent,. And, he reflected 
wryly, all because of a girl who had 
just finished, confessing to two par- 
ticularly unplea.sant murders. 

Naia North raised her head and 
their eyes met — met and held. Her 
lips parted slightly as she caught 
the unmistakable message in those 
gray-blue depths. . . . 

The moment passed, the spell 
was broken and she leaned back in 
the chair and laughed a little shak- 
ily. "I read about those statements 
of his in the papers, Lieutenant. I 
think perhaps I can at least par- 
tially, explain them. As I remember 
it, there were several Bunsen burn- 
ers lighted on the laboratory bench 
near tiiat window. They give off a 
blue flame, you know, and I must 
have been .staflding near them 
when Paul' Cordell came charging 
in. In his confused frame of mind, 
he may have pictured me as being 
in a ball of -flame." 

"Sounds possible," the man ad- 
mitted, frowning. "What- about 
those flashes of light?" 

"You've got me there. Ualess 
they were reflections of sunlight 
through the ' window — from the 
windshield of a passing car, per- 
haps." 

"And the things he heard you 
and Gilmore saying?" 

She shook her head regretfully. 



18 

"There I'm siiiiplv in the dark, I 
don't see Iiow m could have 
twisted what little we said into the 
utterly fantastic nonsense he claims 
to have heard." 



KiRic EUBBED a Iiaiid slowly 
along tlie side of Ms neck,, 
still frowning. "He could have con- 
fused tl'iat length of metal in your 
hand as a gun. . . . Well—" his 
shoulders lifted in the ghost of a 
slirug— "it all seems to add up. 
Except one thing: Cordell had 
been tried and convicted, leaving 
you in the clear. Why come down 
here Yoluntarily and stick your 
lovely head in a noose?" 

Tile girl smiled faintly. " 'Lovely 
head', Lieutenant?" 

Kirk iiished to the eyebrows. 
"That sipped out. . . . Why the 
confession?" 

She said soberly: "I was so sure 
they'd let him off. When you know 
someone's innocent you can't real- 
ize that others won't know it too, I 
suppose. But when I learned he'd 
been, found guilty and actually con- 
demned to die . . . well, I know it 
sounds noble and all that but I 
couldn't let liini go to his death for 
something I'd done. Surely such a 
thing has happened before in your 
experieiicCj Lieutenant." 

He watched as she drew smoke 
from tile cigarette deeply into her 
lungs and let it flow out in twin 
streamers from her nostrils. Only 
rich men, he thought, could afford 
a woman like this, and somehow it 
made him resentful. What right 
did she have to walk in here and 
flaunt a body like that in Ms face? 



HOWARD BROWNE 

She went with mink stoles and cab- 
in cruisers and -cocktails at the 
Sherry-Netherland, and her shoe 
bll would exceed Ms yearly salary. 
She would be competent and more 
than a little cynical aad not too 
coiiccxned with morals or the lack 
of them. That kind of woman 
could Mil— and would kill, on the 
spur of the moment and if the pro- 
vocation was strong enough. 

"Well, Lieutenant?" She said it 
lightly, almost with disinterest. 

Then Kirk was all right again, 
and he was looking at a woman 
who had just confesecl to murder. 

"You lieard the phone call I 
made a moment ago, Miss North. 
Two men from the Crime Lab are 
already on their way to the Uni- 
versity. If they find your finger- 
prints inside that closet, if they caa 
turn up anfthing to prove you've 
been in Gregory GihBore's la'bora- 
tory, then you and that evidence 
and your confession get turned 
over to the D. A. and Paul Cordell 
will be on his way to freedom." 

"And if those men .don't find 
anythiHg?" 

"Then/' he told her rudely, 
"you're Just another crackpot and 
I'm tossing you and your phony ^ 
confession out of here.*' 



T'EY rooMD tire fingerprints: 
weral perfect ones on the 
Miiivi door of the laboratory coat 
closet. But even more conclusive 
was their discovery of a short 
length of poEshed metal" pipe 
amoHg the dismantled parts of a 
Clayton centrifuge. At one end of 
the pipe were the impHnts of four 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO 



19 




She was standing a good two feet off the floor in the miiile 
of a glowiMg bubble that pulsed and wavered aronni her. 



fingertips' — at the other a micro- 
scopic trace of human blood. 

"We IiacI nO' business missing it 
the irst time, Lieutenant," the 
Grime Laboratory technician told 
Kirk meftilly. "I'd a sworn we 
pulled that place apart last month. 
But this time we got tlie murder 
weapon and we got the prints- — 
and those pripts match the ones 
we took off that blonde. Hey, how 



about that, Lieutenant? I tliomght 
this , Gordell guy did that job?" 

Slowly Kirk replaced tiie receiver 
and eyed Naia North across the 
desk from him. "Looks like you're 
elected," he said somberly. "I'm 
telling you straight: the D. A. isn't 
going to like tliis at all— not even 
any part of it." 

Her brow wrinkled. "I'm afraid 
I don't understand. Doesn't he 



20 

jwaiit miirder cases solved?" 

Srk smiled crciokedly. "You're 
forgetting this case was soked— 
met a inoatli ago. You any idea 
what it can mean to a poltician to 
kave to admit publicly that he's 
insdc a mistake? Especially a mis- 
take that's going to get al! the pub- 
licity this one's bound to? 'District 
attoraey railroads innocent man!' 
•TVafic miscarriage of justice 
a¥erted only by cliaace!* Stuffy edi- 
torials in the opposition press about 
incoDipetence in high offices and 
how the ¥Oters must keep out any- 
body who goes around executing 
the innocent and helpless. Looks 
like Arthur Kahler Troy is going 
to be a mighty unpopular man 
aroufld these parts— and electioii 
less than ive moaths away!" 

He glanced up at the office clock. 
It was nearly nine o'dock in the 
evening, and both of them were 
siiowiiig sigas of wear. Kirk left Ms 
cliair and went over to the water 
cooler, drank two cupfiils and 
browglit one back to the girl She^ 
tlianked him with a wan smile and 
gulped down the contents. 

He took tie empty paper con- 
tainer and crumpled 'it slowly. 
"Might as wel get hold of him," ' 
he muttered. "It's going to be 
mighty damned rough, sister. You 
sure fou want to go through with 
it?" 

She lifted an eyebrow at liim. 
"That's a pecuKar question for a 
liomibide officer to ask, isn't it?" 

"I suppose so." His eyes shifted 
to the phone on Ms desk, stayed 
there for a long moment. Then lie 
sliriigged hugely and picked up the 
receiver. . , , 



I 



HOWARD BROWNE 

T WAS well after two in the 

morning before Martia Kirk 
reached Ms apartment. He show- 
ered and got into a fresh pair of 
pajamas and went into the small, 
sparsely furnished Hving room. He 
moved slowly and with no spring 
in his step, and the set of liis fea- 
tures was harsh and strained in the 
soft light from the floor lamp. 

Troy had been even more diffi- 
cult than he'd feared. What had 
begun as plain irritability at being 
disturbed, had pased by successive 
stages to amused disbelief, open an- 
ger arid finally reluctant conviction 
that Paul Cordell was innocent of 
the crimes for which he had been 
sentenced to die. 

A male stenographer from Ms 
staff was' called in and Naia Horth 
dictated a complete statement 
wMch she signed. Troy questioned 
her for nearly two hours, getting in 
every possible angle of her private 
life as well as mimite details of her 
actions on the day of the miirders. 
Kirk had not been present during 
that part of the night, but he ig- 
ured it wouldn't be much different 
from m'hat he'd heard many times 
before. 

He mixed himself a drink, and 
•was surprised to disco¥er tliat his 
hands were shaking ^ noticeably. 
Well, why not? A day ike the one 
he'd just been through would put 
the shakes in Grant's Tomb. Even 
as he made the excuse, he knew it 
wasn't the real reason. There had 
been cases that had kept Mm on his 
feet for as much as forty-eight 
hours— cases where men had 
poiHted guns at Mm and pulled the 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO 

triggers— and the shakes never 
came. 

No, it was the girl. Naia North. 
Naia — a strange name. But no 
stranger than the girl herself. Now 
how about tliat? Why should he 
think her strange? Because she'd 
taken a life or two? Hell, lots of 
people did that and bo one called 
them sti-aage. Criminal or immoral 
or greedy or angry, yes. But not 
strange. She looked like other wom- 
en — only a lot better. She dressed 
like them, walked like them, 
talked like them. So why strange? 

Because she was strange. Noth- 
ing you could put your finger on 
made her that v/ay, but tliat's the 
way she was. 

He threw Ms cigar savagely into 
the fireplace. He went over and 
made ano'tlier drink and poured it 
down fast and another ooe after it, 
light oa its heels. Then he went to 
bed. Tomorrow— today, rather— 
was a work day and work days were 
tough clays and he needed liis rest. 

He didn't get much of it, though. 
^Tlie phone woke Mm a few minute.s 
sifter seven o'clock. It was Arthur 
Kahler Troy at the other end and 
tli6 D, A. was too angry to be co- 
iierent. 

It seemed Naia North had dis- 
appeared from lier locked cell dur- 
ing the night ' 



Chaptei* III 



CI 



I don't gi¥e a triple-distiled 
damn what you say!" Troy 
snarled, "Nobody's got enough 



; m 

money to make tliat kind of pay- 
off. Vwe men, , Lieutenant— five 
men and ive locked doors stood be- 
tween that girl and the street. And 
you sit there aad try to tell me 
somebody^ought all five of 'em 
off!" 

"Then/' Kirk said heatedly, 
"what's your explanation?" 

It had been going on this way 
for o¥er an hour. The nioraing sun 
came in weakly at the window be- 
hind Troy's huge polistied mahog- 
any desk, picking up random re- 
flections from the collection of ex- 
pensive gadgets littering the glass 
top. 

Troy began to wear another 
patli in the. moss-colored broad- 
loom carpeting. He was big and 
broad and getting puffy around the 
middle, lilie a ''one- time halfback 
going to seed. His round, heavy- 
featured face was even more .florid 
than usual, and his heavy growth 
of reddish-blond liair needed a 
comb. 

Martin Kirk pushed himself 
deeper into the depths of a brown 
leather chair and watched the 
D. A. through brooding eyes. He 
wanted a cigar but it was too early 
in the morning for that kind of in- 
dulgence. You needed a good 
breaMast and a couple cups of cof- 
fee before-T- 

"I don't explain it," Troy said in 
quieter tones. He was standing by 
tlie window now, staring down in- 
to the boiile%'arci passing tliat side of 
the Criminal Courts Building. "It's 
one of these things that make me 
think my sainted mother wasn't so 
%'roag when she used to tell about 
elves and gnomes and 'lepre- 



22 

cliauns and fairies and — " 

Kirk made a sound deep in his 
throat. "Naia North was a hell of 
a long way from being a lepre- 
cliaiin. Somebody wanted her out 
of here for some reason — and they 
got her out. I want to know who 
took her out, m'hy she was taken, 
and where she is now. And I'm go- 
ing to find out the answers to all 
three if I have to turn this town on 
its ear." 

"Go ahead," Troy said. "Hop 
right to it and I "wish you luck. 
Only leave me and my people out 
of it." 

"Seems to me you're mighty 
damned anxious to be left out." 

Axtlmr Kaliler Troy turned on 
his heel and strode toward the 
Lieutenant until he was towering 
over him, "Just what," he said be- 
tween his teetli. "do you mean by 
that crack?" 

"Figure it out for ' yourself," 
Kirk snapped. "And I'm sure you 
can." 

Troy reared bad as though the 
police officer had pulled a gun on 
him. "Why— why you — I'll have 
you busted for making a dirty in- 
siiiu— " 

"You couldn't bust a daisy chain 
at the police department," Kirk 
growled. "The Commissioner hates 
your gut.<5 and you know that as 
well as I do. Now let's cut out all 
this liokey-pokey and pick up a few 
loose ends. The first thing: what 
about Paul Gordell?" 

All the wide-eyed fury seemed to 
go out of Troy's face like water 
down the bathtub drain. He turned 
away and walked slowly back to 
liis desk chair and sat down. 



HOWARD BROWNE 

He said, "What about Gordell," 
in a soft voice, 

"The morning paper," Kirk said, 
"reports he was taken up to Hill- 
crest last night. The warden out 
there's probably got him in Deatli 
Row alreadv." 

"Uh-hunh." 

"Well, let's get him out of there. 
With the evidence we've got, plus 
Naia North's sworn statem,entj 
Judge Reed will have to bring him 
back down here and release him — 
at least on bail until we can find 
the girl. The man's innocent, Mr. 
D. A.; have you forgotten?" 

"Yes.". 

"'Yes'? Yes, what?" 

"I've forgotten he's, innocent," 
Troy said quietly. "Matter of fact, 
he's guilty as hell." 



THEXiEtJTEHANT half rose from 
his chair. "Now wait a min- 
ute! You heard that girl's story 
and you've got the evidence I 
turned over to you right here in 
■this office last night. What more — " 
'Til tell you what more," Troy 
snapped. "That girl was a fraud, 
her story was a downright lie and 
that evidence was faked. Let me 
tell you something else, Mister: 
within five minutes after .the guard 
downstairs reported your girl friend 
missing, I had fivt ^sqiiacls of my 
men out running down the per- 
sonal information she gave me a 
few hours before. And you know 
what they found outl.. Every bit of 
what she told me was false! Hear 
that? False! It took my men about 
one hour to prove as much, for the 
simple reason tliat not one lead 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO 

panned out. Not one! Aod you 
know what 1 tHnk?" 

Martin Kirk opened Hs mouth 
but nothing came out but a stran- 
gled croak. 

"I think you and this dame 
worked out the whole thing be- 
tween tile two of you tO' save Cor- 
dell's neck. Who could do a better 
job of , faking evidence than a 
crooked cop? What's more, you 
might have gotten away with it, too 
—only it suddenly dawned on the 
girl that she was getting- in too 
deep." 

"And so," Kirk cut in hotly, ".she 
calmly walked through five locked 
sets of iron bars and went back to 
Mars!" 

He stood up -aod crossed to the 
desk and leaned down with his 
palms in the center of tlie brown 
blotter. "You won't get away with 
it, Troy, You didn't want any part 
of this new development from the 
minute I called you on the phone 
last night- You knew it could show 
you aad your whole organization 
up as a bunch of bunglers and in- 
competents. So you got lid of the 
- girl, thinking that -without her the 
truth of those murders would never 
get out to th,e voters. 

. "Well, it won't work. Fatso! The 
evidence I dug up is strong eaougli 
to reopen the case without Naia 
North. All I have to do is put that 
ewidence in front of Jud^e Reed, 
and-^" 

Troy was smiling wolfishly. 
"What evidence, Lieuteoant?" 

Kirk stiffened, "You Inow 
damned well ■•what evidence. It's m 
your files right now: Naia North's 
statement, the strips of paneling 



23 

from that coat closet, the murder 
weapon. I turned tlie whole works 
over to you." 

The D. A. wa.s shaking his head. 
"We don't keep worthless junk 
around here, my boy. The Cordell 
c&x is closed; the giulty man is 
awaiting execution. Sure, you run 
along and tell the Judge all about 
it. Tell the- newspapers, tell Cor- 
delFs defense attorneys, tell the 
-world for all I care. See -who'll 
touch it -without something more 
concrete than your highly imagi- 
native day dreams. For all you can 
prove, the girl might have con- 
fessed the whole thing was a hoax 
and we tossed her out of here last 
night, . . . 

"I'm a busy man, Lieatenant. 
Good morning- — good luck— and 
kindly close the door on your way 
out." 



Chapter I¥ 



LIEUTENANT Martlii Kirk shoved 
the pile of mimeographed 
pages aside. Three hours spent in 
going through the complete tran- 
script of the Cordell trial and noth- 
ing to show for it but stiff muscles 
and an aching head. 

Give it up, a small vofce in the 
back of Hs mind urged. You, 
haven't got a leg to stand on as far 
as getting any action out of the au- 
thorities. Troy and his gang put 
the fear of God in that p'urple-eyed 
dame and shipped her out of the 
State. You lose, brother — and so 



24 

does that poor devil up in Death's 
Row. 

He dmirimed his fingers over and 
over on the ami of his chair and 
listened to the every-day sounds of 
a normal day at the Homicide Bu- 
reau. A new day, a new set of prob- 
lems, and why knock yourself out 
over sometHng that doesr''t con- 
cern you? Thing to do was go dom'ii 
to the comer tavern and have a 
couple of fast ones and watcit an 
old movie on television. Yes sir, 
that's exactly what he'd do! 

He went back to the mimeo- 
graphed pages. 

For the. fourth time he read 
through Cordell's testimony of 
what had happened that October 
afternoon. And it was there that 
he came across the first possible 
break in the stone wall.^ 

Once more Martin Kirk went 
over the few lines, although by this 
time lie 'could have come close to 
reciting them from memory. It was 
an excerpt from Arthur Kahler 
Tit)y's cross-examination of the de- 
fendant after Cordell's counsel, in a 
last desperate effort to swing - the 
tide of a losing battle, had placed 
Mm on the stand. 

Q: (by Troy): Now, Mr. 
Cordell, I direct your at- 
tention to the point in 
your testimony at which 
fir.st entered Profe.ssor Gil- 
more's outer office. At 
what time was this? 

A:' At about 5:45 p.m. 

Q: Who was in the ofice at 
that time? 



HOWARD BROWNE 

A: Alma Dakiii, the Profes- 
sor's secretary. And a cou- 
ple of students — although 
. they were at the other end 
of the room and I didn't 
pay much attention to 
them. 

Q: But you did pay atteii- , 
tion, as you call it, to Miss 
Dakin? 

A: Well, I spoke to her, if 
that's what you mean. 

Q: That's exactly what I 
mean, Mr. Cordell. And 
what was it you said to 
her? 

A: Something about it was 
' too late in tfie day to be 
working so hard, 

Q: That was all? 

A: Yes, sir. 

Q: Remember, Mr, Cordell, 
you're under oath. Now I 
ask you again: Was that 
all you said to her at that 
time? 

A: Yes, sir. 

Q: It isn't possible you've for- 
gotten some additi.onal re- 
mark? Think carefully, 
please. 

A: No, sir. That's all I said. I 
swear it. 

Q: Very welL Now how well 
do you know Miss Dakin? 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO 
A: Just to speak to. 

Q: Have you ever seen her 
outside Professor Oil- 
more's office? 

A: Moj sir. 

Q: Ever' ask her for a date? 

A: 'No, sir. 

Q : Did - you ever have an 
argument with her? A dis- 
cussion of any kind tliat 
may have become a bit 
heated? 

A: No, sir. 

Q: Then to your /knowledge 
she'd have no reason to 
dislike you? 

A: No, sir. 

Q: Very good. Now, Mr.'Gor- 
dell, I want to read to you 
an excerpt from the testi- 
mony given by Miss Dakiii 
in this court. "Mr. Cor- 
dell was looking ¥ery an- 
gry whcD he came in. He 
came up to me and bent 
down over the desk and 
said so low I could hard- 
ly hear him: 'Hi, Alma. 
You think the Profs 
through making love to 
my m'ife?' " I now a.<5k you, 
Paul GordelL isn't that 
what you said to Alma 
Dakin? Not . that she was 
working too hard, or 
. whatever it was you 



25 



, claimed to have, said. 



A: No, sir. I didn't .'say any- 
thing like she said I did. I 
wouldn't insult my wife 
by saying such a thing ^ to 
a ttiird— 

Q: Just ansm'cr the qiiestionSj 

Mr. Cordell. Then you 

contend that Miss Dakiii 

, ■ deliberately lied in her 

testimony. 

A: She was mistaken. 

Q: Oh, come now! Miss 
Dakin is an Intelligent 
girl; Ae couldn't misun- 
derstand or twist your 
words to that extent. Now 
could she? 

M; Then she lied. I never said, 
anything like that. ^ ., 

Q: What reason would she 
have for lying, Mr. Cor- 
dell? By your own state- 
ment she hardly knew 
you, always greeted you 
pleasantly on the times 
you came to the office, 
never got into any argu- 
ments with you, and never 
saw you outside the office. 
She had worked for Pro- 
fessor Gilmore for five or 
six months, has excellent 
references, and is well 
liked by ' her friends. Yet 
' you're asking ns to believe 
that she .coldly. and dehb- 
erately lied to get you into 
tiouble. Is that true? 



26 



HOWARD BROWNE 



A: All I know is she lied. 



THE BREAK WES thciC all 
right, Kirk thought grimly. 
For if Gordell was innoceiit, then 
he had told the truth during the 
trial. And if he had told the truth 
about his remark to Alma Dahiii, 
then, automatically. Alma Dakiii's 
testimony was untrue. 

Kirk ran his fi,ngers through his 
hair in ' a gesture bi bafflement. 
What possible reason could Gil- 
more's secretary have for going out 
of her way to lie about GordelFs 
remark? Was it because she was so 
certain he had killed her employer 
that she wanted to make sure he 
would be punished? 

Or was it because she wanted to 
shield the real killer? Maybe she 
was a friend of Naia North's and 
jiad IcBowii the blonde girl w'is in 
Gilmore's laboratory all along. She 
might even have deliberately 
steered everyone out of her office 
after Cordei discovered the bodies, 
making it possible for Naia to sMp 
out unseen. 

It was a slender lead, but the 
only one large enough to get even 
a fingernail grip on. He drew the 
phone over in front of him and 
hegan a series of calls designated to 
give him more information about 
Alma Dakin. 

A call to the Univeislty took him 
through a couple of secretaries be- 
fore he reached the right person. 
Her name was Miss Slif e, personnel 
director of all non-teaching em- 
ployees. Miss Dakin? Why, ■ of 
course! A lovely girl and very de- 
pendable. She iiad xome to the 



Univer-sity in isearch of a position 
only a day or t%vo before Miss Col- 
lins, Professor Gilmore's previous 
secretary, had resigned. Since Miss 
Dakin's references shom'cd that .she 
had worked for a short time 'as sec- 
retary to Dr. Kameyj one of the 
co-discoverers of the atom bomb 
(according tt> Miss Slife), she had 
been engaged to take Miss Collins' 
place. Professor Gilmore, poor 
man, had been very pleased with 
the chaHge and evei7body was 
happy: Miss Collins at inheritiag a 
very large sum of money from a 
relative she'd never even heard of, 
Miss Dakin at being able to get 
such a nice position, and dear Pro- 
fessor Gilmore at finding such a 
satisfactory replacement. 

When Miss Slife had run down, 
Kirk said, "This Dr. Karney. Why 
did Miss Dakin leave him?" 

The woman' at the other end of 
the wire seemed astonished by 
Kirk's ignorance. "Why, I as- 
sumed everybody knew about Dr. 
Karney. He died of a heart attack 
about eight months ago." 

"What!" 

"Goodness, there's no need to 
shout, Mr. Kirk. He was con- 
nected with Clement -University, 
out in California, and suffered a 
stroke of some kind while at work." 

Kirk thanked her dazedly and 
broke the connection. This, he told 
himself, is too much a, coincidence 
to be a coincidence! Two promi- 
nent nuclear scientists dying sud- 
denly within seven months of each 
other at opposite ends of tlie coun- 
try — and both of them with the 
same secretary at the time of their 
deaths! 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO 

A sudden thought sent Mm leaf- 
ing rapidly through the trial tran- 
script to the place where Patil Gor- 
dell had told of the disjointed 
phrases he claimed to have heard 
before he pushed into Professor 
Gilmore's laboratory. The words he 
sought seemed to stand out in let- 
ters of ire: ". . . three in the past 
five months ..." 



AGAIN HE caught up the tele- 
phone receiver, aware that 
Ms heart was pounding Mth ex- 
citement, and dialed a number. . . . 
"Bulletin? liello; let' me talk to 
Jerry Furness. . . . Jerry,- this is 
Martin Kirk at Homicide. Look, 
do something for me. I want to find 
out how many top nuclear fission 
boys have died in the past four or 
five months. . . . No, no: nothing 
like that. Some of the boys down 
here were ' having ' an argument 
about . . . Sure ; I'll hold on." 

He propped ■ the receiver be- 
tween his ear and shoulder and 
groped for a cigar. In the office be- 
yond the partition of his cubbyhole 
a woman was sobbing. Chenowich 
went past his open door whistling 
a radio ■ commercial. 

The receiver against his ear be- 
gan to vibrate. "Yeah, Jerry. . . . 
Four of 'em, hey? Let's have their 
names." He picked up a pencil and 
toolc down the information. "Uh- 
hunh! Three heart attacks and one 
murder. Check. . . . You mean all 
of them? Tough life, I guess. . . . 
Yeah, sure. Anytime. So long." 

He replaced the receiver with 
slow care and leaned back to study 
the list of names. Not counting the 



27 

last name — ■ Gilmore's ■• — three 
world-renowned men in the field 
of nuclear physics had dropped 
dead from heart failure within the 
designated span of mor,iths. 

Coincidence? Maybe. But he was 
in no mood for coincidences. If the 
deaths of these four scientists m'as 
the result of some sinister plan, 
who was responsible? Some foreign 
power, concerned about this coun- 
try's growing mastery of nuclear 
fission? Was it his duty to notify 
the FBI of his findings and let them 
take over from here? 

He shook his head. Too early for 
anything like that. He needed 
more evidence—- evidence not to^ be 
explained away as coincidence. 

Once more Lieutenant Martin ■ 
Kirk went back to ■ analyzing the 
broken phrases Cordell had picked 
up while eavesdropping that Octo- 
ber afternoon. Twelve times zero 
made no sense at all . . . unless it 
could be the combination of a 
safe . . . ? Hardly possible ; ho com- 
bination he'd ever heard of would 
read that way. The next one, thenc 
. . . chained to two hundred thou- 
sand years . . . Another blank; could 
mean anything or nothing. Next: 
^4.* . . . sounded' like the Professor 
said something like his colleges had 
no idea and he'd see they were 
warned right away. 

Kirk bit thoughtfully down on a 
corner of Ms lip. Gilmore didn't 
own any colleges and how do you 
go about warning one? Maybe the 
word was college, meaning the one 
where he had his laboratory. But 
actually it wasn't a college at all; 
it was a university. Not much dif- 



28 

fereiice to the man in the street, 
but to the Professor . . . Wait a 
minute! Not colleges! Colleagues! 
It was Ms colleagues. Gilmore had 
promised to warn. And the word 
meant men and women in the same 
line' of work as the Professor — 
nuclear physics. Things, Kirk told 
hiniself with elation, were looking 
up! 

The business about "three in the 
past five months" was next, but he 
felt sure of what that had meant. 
But the last of the quotations wint 
nowhere at all 

"Something about taking in 
washing — '" Under less tragic cir- 
cunistap^ccs, a nonsense line. But 
Cordell hadn't actually., heard the 
■words clearly enough to quote 
them witli authority. That could 
mean he had heard words that 
sounded like "taking in washing." 

Taking, baking, making, slaking, 
raking — the list seemed endless. 
"Washing" could have been the 
first two syllables of Washington— 
and Washington would be the 
place where the Atomic Energy 
Commission hung out. 

Still too hazy. He leaned back 
and put his feet up and attacked 
the three mysterious words frorn 
every conceivable angle. No dice. 



SKJHT OF the ambling figure 
of Patrolman Chenowich pass- 
ing the office door caught his eye, 
reminding him that two heads were 
often better than one, "Hey, 
Frank." _ , 

Chenowich came in. "Yeah, 
Lieutenant. Soniethin' doin'?" 
"Fin trying to figure out a little 



HOWARD BROWNE 

problem," Kirk explained careless- 
ly. "Let's say you hear a guy talk- 
ing in the next room. You can't 
really make out the words he's say- 
ing, but right in the middle of his 
mumbling you hear what sounds 
hke 'taking in waAing.' Now you 
know that can't be right, so you 
try to think out what he actually 
did say . . ." 

It was obvious Chenowich had 
fallen off on the first cui"v*e, so com- 
pletely off that Kirk didn't bother 
finishing what was much too ib- 
¥olved to begin with. The patrol- 
man was staring at him in mon- 
stfous perplexity. 

"Jeez, Lieutenant. I don't get it. 
'Less the guy's goin' to open up one 
of these here laundries. That way 
he'd be takin' in washin'. But I 
don't know what else — " 

Kirk's feet hit the floor with a 
solid thump and he grabbed 
Chenowich's wrist with fingers 
that bit in like steel, "Say that 
again!" he shouted. "Say it jast 
that way!" 

The patrolman recoiled in 
alarm. "What's got into you, Lieu- 
tenant? 'Say what?" 

"Taking in washing!" 

"Takin' in washin'? What for.?" ^ 

Kirk's grill threatened to split his 

face, "The same ivords," he said, 

"but you say them different. Only 

, your way's the right %%'ay! Thanks, 

pal. Now get out of here!" 

Chenowich went. His mouth v/as 
.still open and his' expression .still 
troubled, but he went. 

The last of the killer's cryptic re- 
marks was now clear. For Kirk re- 
alized that "takin' " rhymed with 
"words you'd never associate with 



TWELVE TIMES, ZERO 

"taking." "Bacon", for instanee— 
or "Dakin"! Alma Dakin, former 
secretary to two widely separated, 
and now dead, nuclear scientists. 
Her name had been mentioned by 
tile slayer of Professor Gilmore 
only seconds before she had 
clubbed the savant to death. 

But now that "taking" had 
come out "Dakin"— what did Ae 
rest of the plirase mean? Dakin in 
washing made no sense. What 
sounded like umshiMg? Washing; 
washing . . . watching? It was close ; 
in fact nothing he could think of 
came closer. 

411 right. Dakin in uiatching; no. 
Dakin ' ii watching— that made 
sense. But Alma Datin hadn't been 
watching anytliing at tlie time of 
tile killing; she, according to Cor- 
dell, was at her desk in the outer 
office. That would lea¥e Dakin was 
watching as the right combination. 
Watching for the right opportunit}' 
for innrder!' 

What did it mean? Well, a.siim- 
ing from her past record that Alma 
Dakin was mixed up in the deaths 
of two prominent men of science, 
it argued that she and Naia North 
were accomplices in a scheme to 
rid America of her nuclear fission 
experts. The nice smootii story of 
killing Gilmore because of unre- 
quited love was probably as much 
a lie as the personal information 
Naia North had given Arthur 
Kahler Troy. 

The North girl had confessed to 
murdering Gilmore ' and Juanita 
Gordell. As a confessed ^ killer she 
must be taken "into custody and 
booked on suspicion of homicide. 
Taking her was Martin Kirk's job 



29 

—and it seemed he had a contact 
that would lead him to her. Name- 
ly Alma Dakin. 

Lieutenant .Kirk grabbed his hat 
and went' out the door. 



Chapter ¥ 



THE ADDRESS for Alma Dakin 
turned out to be a small three- 
story walk-up apartment building 
on a quiet residential street near 
the outskirts of town. At two in the 
afternoon hardly anyone was vmble 
on the sidewalks and only an oc- 
casional automobile jjassed. 

Kirk parked his car half a block 
further on down and got out into 
the chill November air. He entered 
the building foyer and looted at the 
name plates above the tmn rows of 
buttons. The one for Alma Dakin 
told him the number of her apart- 
ment was 3G. 

He pu.shed the button several 
times but mthout response. The 
foyer was very quiet at Ais time 
of day, and he could hear the faint 
rasp of her bell through the speak- 
ing tube. 

Kirk was on the point of shift- 
ing his thumb to the button marked 
suPERiKTENDEMT when a sudden 
thought stayed his hand. It was not 
the lind of thought a conscientious, 
rule-abiding police officer would 
harbor for a moment. The lieuten- 
ant, however, v/as fully aware he 
had no business m'orling on a 
closed case to begin with — and 
when you're breaking one set of 
rules, you might as well break 



30 



HOWARD BROWNE 



them all. ■ ' 

He rang four of tlie other bells 
before the lock on the inner door 
began to click. Pusliing it open, he 
waited until a female 'voice floated 
down the stairs. "Who is it?" 

"Police Department, ma'am. 
You folks own that green Buick 
parked out in froBt?" There was 
no Buick, green or otherwise, along 
the street curbing, but Kirk figured 
she wouldn't know that. 

"Why, no, Officer. I can't im- 
agine — " 

"Okay. Sorry we bothered you, 
lady." Kirk' let the door swing into 
place hard enough to be heard up- 
stairs. But this* time he 'was on 'the 
right side of it. 

There was a moment of silence, 
then he caught the sound of re- 
treating feet and a door closed. 
Without waiting further, the Lieu- 
tenant mounted the stairs to the 
third floor, his feet soundles.s on 
the carpeted treads. 

The entrance to 3C was secured 
by a tumbler-type loci. From an, 
iaiaer pocket Kirk took out a small, 
flat leather case and a thin-edged 
tool from that. Working with the 
smooth efficiency of the expert, he 
loosened the door moulding near 
the lock and inserted 'the 'tool blade 
until it fo'uiid the bolt. This he 
eased back, turned the door han,- 
dle and, a moment later, was stand- 
ing in a small living' room taste- 
fully furnished in modem woods. 

His first action was to enter the 
tiny kitchen and unbolt tlie door 
leading to the rear porch. In case 
Alma Daki'o arrived at an inoppor- 
tune moment, he could be half way 
down the outer steps while she was 



still engaged with the front door 
lock. Since he had pressed the 
moulding back into place, there 
wotdd be notl'iing 'to indicate his 
presence. 



WITHIN TEN. minutes Kirk had 
ransacked every inch of the 
,living room in search of something, 
anything, that would point to Alma 
Dakin as being more than a nine- 
to-five secretar}'. ,And while he 
found nothing, no one, not even 
the girl who lived here, could tell 
that an intruder had been at work. 

The bedroom seemed even less 
promising at first. Dresser drawers 
gave UJ3 only the pleasantly per- 
sonal articles of the average young 
woman. Miss Dakin, it turned out, 
was almost indecently fond of 
frothy undergarments and black 
transparent nightgowns — interest- 
ing but not at all important to the 
o¥er-all problem. 

Kirk, his search completed, sat 
do'wn on the edge of the bed's 
footboard and totaled up what he 
had learned. It didn't take long, 
for he knew absolutely no more 
about Alrna Dakin than he had be- 
fore entering her apartment. Ko 
personal papers, no letters from a 
yearning boy friend in the old 
home town, no savings or check- 
ing-acco'unt passbook. Not even a 
scrawled line of birtliday or Christ- 
mas greetings on the fly leaves of 
the apartment's seven books. 

To Kirk's trained mind, the very 
lack of such 'things, the fact that 
Alma Dakin lived in a vacu'urh, was 
highly significant. It smacked of 
her having something to hide — and 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO 

Ms already strong suspicion of 
lier was solidified into certainty 
of her guilt. -But certainty was a 
long way from rock-ribbed evi- 
dence — and that was something he 
must have to proceed furtJier. 

He was ready to leave ^wlien it 
dawned on him that he had not 
yet looked under the bed. .Kneel- 
ing, he pushed up the hanging 
edge of the green batik spread and 
peered into the narrow space. 
Notiiingj not even a decent accii- 
inulation of dust. The light from 
the window was too faint, Iiowever, 
to reach a section of the floor near 
the footboard. Kirk climbed to his 
feet and attempted to shove that 
end to one side. 

The bed failed to move. He 
blinked in mild surprise and tried 
again. It was only by exerting, al- 
most his entire strength that he was 
able to aiiift the thing at all, and 
then no more than a few inches. 

He felt his pulse stir with the 
thrill of iiicij3ient discovery. Once 
he raade sure nothing was anchor- 
ing the bed to' the floor, he began 
to tap lightly against the wood In 
an effort to detect a possible false 
paneL 

Within two oiiiiiites he located 
an almost microscopic crack in the 
headboard cleverly concealed by a 
decorative design running aIon,g 
the base. He ran his fingers Hghtly 
t along the carvings until they en- 
countered a small projection which 
gave slightly under pressure. 

Kirk pressed down harder on the 
laiob. A tiny click sounded against 
the silence and a section of wopd' 
some three feet 'square swung, out. 
Lifting it aside, the detective found 



^ '31 

himself staring at an instmmeait 
board of some kind with a series 
of buttOHs and dials countersunk 
into it. The board itself formed a 
part of what was obviously a- ma- 
chine of some .sort which evidently 
contained its own power, for there 
seemed to be no lead-in cord for 
plugging into a wall socket. 

It could, Kirk thought, be a 
short m'ave radio transmitter. If it 
was, it looked like none he had ever 
, come across before. Qn the other 
hand it could be some sort of in- 
fernal machine, ready to blow half 
the city to bits at the turn of a dial. 



E. EN AS his mind was weighing 
the advisabiEty of tampering 
with the thing, his fingers were- 
reaching for the various controls. 
Gingerly he moved one or t\¥0 of 
'the dials but nothing happened. A 
little more boldly now, he began to 
depress the buttons. As the third 
sank, m, a low humming sound be- 
gan to fill the room. Before Kirk 
could find a cut-off switch of .some 
kind, the faint light of day stream- 
ing through the room's one win- 
dow winked out, plunging hmi into 
a blackness so . infinitely deep that 
it was like being buried alive. 

Nothing can plunge a man, into 
the sheerest panic like the absence 
of light. Even a man like Martin 
Kirk, who had walked almost daily 
with danger for tiie past fifteen 
years. And since the form panic 
takes varies with the individual, 
the Lieutenant's reaction was an 
utter inability to move so much as 
a finger. 

Abruptly the low humming note 



32 

ceased entirely, replaced immedi- 
ately by the sound of a human 
voice. "Mythox. Contact estab- 
lished. Proceed." 

Almost as though the words had • 
tripped a lever in his brain, 'Kirk's 
paralysis ended. Both his hafids 
seemed to swoop of their own voli- 
tion to the invisible control panel 
and their fingers danced across the 
dials and buttons. 

"Mythox," said the voice again. 
It seemed to swell and recede, like 
a direct radio newscast from hal 
around the world. "Contact 
estab-"-" 

The word ended as though it 
had run into a wall. The humiiiing 
note came bacls, then ceased— and 
witliout warning daylight from the 
window v,?ashed over the bewil- 
dered and thoroughly frightened 
police officer. 

Not until five rniriiites had passed 
was Martin Kirk sufficiently in 
control of his nervous system to 
even attempt replacing the loose 
panel in the headboard. When at 
last he managed to do so, he re- 
turned tlie bed to its original po.si- 
tion, closed and bolted the kitchen 
door, took one la.st look around to 
make sure nothing was out of place, 
then slunk out of the apartment. 

By the time he was back behind 
the wheel of his car and had 
burned up half a cigar, Kirk's brain 
was ready to function with some-' 
thing like its normal ability. He sat 
limp as Satan's collar, trying to 
piece together the significance of 
the last half hour's events. 

There -was no longer any doubt 
that Alma Dakin was in this mess 
up to her bangs. Linked as she was 



HOWARD BROWNE 

to the murders (and Kitk was con- 
vinced heart disease had nothing to 
do with it) of those scientists, he 
would have sworn she was a for- 
eign agent bent on weakening 
America's defenses. Except for one 
thing. That machine. The kind of 
mind that could design and put to- 
gether a niechanism, like that was 
not of this planet. No longer did 
Paul Gordelf s story of a girl who 
floated in a ball of blue fire sound 
like the ravings of a deranged 
brain. And the seeming miracle of 
Naia North's escape from a cell 
block now passed from fantasy to 
the factual. 

What to do about it? Martin 
Kirk, at this moment undoubtedly 
the most bewildered man alive, put 
Ms head in his hands and tried to 
reach a decision. Take his story to 
the Police Commissioner? It would 
mean a padded cell- — and without 
even bothering to see if Alma Dak- 
in possessed a machine more com- 
plicated than' an electric iron. 
Some government agency? By the. 
time the red tape was unsnarled* 
the former secretary could have 
reached Pakistan on foot. 

Slowly from the depths of his 
terror of the Unknown, Martin 
Kirk's training m police procedure 
began to make itself felt. A -plan 
started to form — hazy at first, then 
in a sharp and orderly pattern. 



HE lb:ft the car and returned 
to the apartment building. A 
glimpse of his badge and a few in- 
cisive orders masked as requests re- 
duced the superintendent to a .state 
of 'almost obsequious co-operation. 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO 

Mor was the tenant of apartment 
3Dj a middle-aged spinster, any- 
less anxious to assist the law. It 
seemed she had an older sister liv- 
ing on the other side of town who 
would be happy to put her up for 
a few days. She departed' within 
the hour, a travehng bag in one fist. 

Before that houf was gone, 
Chenowich, in response to a sizzling 
phone call, skidded a department 
car to a stop at the curb a block 
from the building. He delivered a 
dictograph to his superior, listened 
to a grim warning to^ keep his 
mouth shut about this at Head- 
quarters, asked a couple of ques- 
tions that drew no answers, and de- 
parted as swiftly as he had come. 

, The next step was the dangerous 
one. The superintendent admitted 
Kirk to the Dakin apartment and 
went down to, the. foyer io ring the 
tell in case the girl arrived at the 
wrong time. He soothed the Lieu- 
tenant's anxiety somewhat by ex- 
plaining that she seldom return^ 
to the place before seven o'clock, 
0¥er three hours front how, but 
Kirk was taking no chances. 

By five o'clock he had Alma 
Kirk's bedrooiB • bugged and the 
instrument in -working order and 
thoroughly tested. He was pains- 
taking about remo¥ing all traces of 
plaster and sawdust and bits of 
wires before- pushing tlie dresser 
back into place to cover the dic- 
tograph's receiver. 

He found the superintendent 
stiffly oa guard in the foyer and 
gave him his final instructions. The 
man listened respectfully, repeated 
them back to Kirk to convince hirtr 
there would be no slip-up, and the 



■33 

Lieutenant went back • upstairs to 
3D to take up his vigil. 

He was in the spinster's bed- 
rooin, working out a cros.sword 
puzzle, earphones in place, when 
he heard^ the sound of the bedroom 
door closing in the next apartment. 

The time was 7:18. 



Chapter ¥1 



IT WAS like being in her room 
with his eyes shut. The soft 
scraping of drawers opening and 
closing, the creak of a chair be- 
ing sat in, the ■ cushioned thump of 
shoes dropped to the carpeted floor, 
even the rustle of a nylon slip as 
she drew it over her head. 

It seemed much too early for her 
to turn in Tor 'the night. Was he 
going to be forced to sit there and 
listen to twelve or fourteen hours ' 
of feminine snoring? It would be 
damned unlikely in view of what 
was a cinch to be running through 
her Blind. , 

Minutes later he heard her leave 
the badroonij followed at once by 
the -muted roar of a running 
shower. After that had lasted a nor- 
mal length of time, the .sound 
ceased and naked feet were audible 
on the bedroom, rug. There was 
more opening and closing of draw- 
ers, the whisper of clothing being 
donned, and an irregular clicking 
.sound like tapping glass against 
glass which he finally interpreted as 
part of the ritual of alternately 
combing and brushing hair while 
in front of the glass-topped vanity. 



34 

If there was anything of a pan- 
icky Bature in her movements it 
would take better ears than his to 
detect it. But for Alma Dakm to 
get away with her MdcI of job re- 
quired tile nerves of lion trainer no 
matter what pressures she was sub- 
jected to. 

Kirk stretched Ms legs, dug a- 
cigar from the breast pocket of Ms 
coat and got it burning, then went 
back to the crossword puzzle 
with half his attention, keeping 
alert for any significant sound 
from the other apartment. His years 
as a minion of the law had ade- 
quately conditioned him to the ut- 
ter boredom that went with the 
ordinary stake-out. 

Several tiroes the subject left the 
beckoom, but he was able to pick 
up sounds familiar enough to trace 
as emanatiog from the li¥ing room 
or kitchen. But nothing she did was 
worthy of notice in the home-town 
paper or even on the margin of a 
police blotter. 



AT 9:24 Alma DaMii again 
entered tlie bedroom. A 
hunch, or a sixth sense, or what- 
ever years of experience in a single 
field gives a man, told Kirk that 
this time something would pop. He 
put aside the newspaper, placed a 
sheet of blank paper on the cover 
of a historical romance lifted from 
the spinster's iiightstand, and got 
out a pencil. 

A motor whined unexpectedly 
from the opposite side of the apart- 
ment wall and be could hear a 
heavy object roll with well-oiled 
smoothness a short distance across 



HOWARD BROWNE 

the carpet. He decided it was the 
bed being moved out from the wall 
by mechanical means rather than 
muscle, and it was ' clear to him 
now how she was able to get at that 
hidden radio, or whatever it was. 

For the second time that day 
.Kirk heard that eerie humming — 
a sound, he -realized, that ordinarily 
would have been completely in- 
audible beyond the girl's bedroom 
walls. Suddenly the hum was 
chopped off and a familiar voice 
spoke familiar words. 

"Mythox. Contact established. 
Proceed." 

"A message for Orin. Alma 
Dakin." 

A series of almost undetectable 
clicking sounds: then: 

"Alma?" Despite the fact that 
the voice was coming through an 
amplifier, there wa.s no distortion. 
■"Anything wrong?" 

It was a man's voice, clear, vi- 
brant, young, and with no trace 
of an .%lien accent. Kirk's theory of 
an interplanetary menace lost some 
of its strength. 

"I — I'm not sure, Orin," the girl 
said hesitantly. "There was a po- 
liceman at my apartment today- — 
the same one Naia went to: The 
building superintendent told me." 

"That's odd. There's no way fou 
can be tied in with her. Or is 
there?" 

"Not that I know of, Orin. Un- 
less they've decided to check back 
on me just for the sake of some-, 
thing to do. If that's what's hap- 
pened- and they've learned I was 
•working for Dr. Karney at the time 
of Ms death, they may get an idea 
the three deaths are related. And 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO '^ ' 

once a police officer gets suspicious, 
he can hound you unmercifully. 
That's what worries me, Orin,. You 
know I'm not really an accom- 
plished liar!" 

"Shall we bring you here? At 
least long enough to build you a 
new identity?" 

A pause. Then the girl's ¥oice 
again : "Something else puzzles me, 
too. There's no mention of Naia's 
confession in the newspapers." 

"What? You mean they haven't 
released Cordell? What will Tamil 
say?" 

"If they have, nobody knows 
about it. ' I told you Naia should 
have remained in their hands until 
the young man was set free.. You 
don't know rny people as I do, Orin 
- — none of you do." 

"But the evidence? Nobody, not 
even the most stupid of Earthmen, 
could have ignored that evidence! 
Tamu won't like this." 

''I can't help it, Orin. I keep 
telling yoUj Orin: you must use -a 
new set of standards for this world. 
If its people thought as yours' do, 
none of these unpleasant things 
would have to happen." 



ANOTHEE PAUSE before the 
man's voice came over Kirk's 
earphones. "We didn't dare leave 
Naia in their liands. That's 'Why 
we brought her back here. Look at 
the chance wc took by perniitting 
them to hold her even brieiy. If 
only she hadn't blundered in the 
first place . . ." 

His voice' trailed oil, then came 
back suddenly brisk. '"Well, too late 
for regrets. We won't risk letting 



35 

them question you. Field Seven in, 
say, three hours. Time enough?" 

"More than enough!" Her relief 
was unmistakable. "It'll be wonder- 
ful visiting Mythox again, Orin. I 
hope Methu will allow' me to stay 
for a long time." 

"I hope so too, darhng. But our 
work comes first; none of us dares 
let down for even a moment. . . . 
See you sopn. And don't neglect 
to eliminate the contrabeam." 

"It will be gone seconds'after we 
break contact. Field Seven at— 
let's see-^ 12: 30." 

"I'll be there. Farewell, Alma," 

The dim humming came back 
again, followed briefly by no sound 
at allf Then there was the noise of 
drawers being opened and closed 
with a kind of brisk and cheerful 
haste. Alma Dakin was preparing 
to take it on the lam! , 

Martin Kirk knew he had only 
a limited time to plan his own 
course of action. One way was to . 
walk' into the adjoining apartment, 
place Alma Dakin under arrest and 
force the whole story from her. A 
moment's reflection, however, 
caused him to abandon the idea. 
Any such move would end his 
chances of getting his hands on 
Naia North. More than anything 
else he wanted her, and he closed 
his mind to the broader aspects of 
%vhat had taken— and was still tak- 
ing—place. 

No, his job was to follow Alma 
Dakin to her rendezvous with this 
man Orin and in some way force 
the two of them into turning Naia 
North over to him. This time she'd 
stick around long enough to stand 
trial — even if he had. to handcuff 



36 

her to the bars of her cell ! 

From, beyond the wall he .caught 
the sounds of suitcases being 
snapped, shut, followed by the fad- 
ing echo of footsteps. He jerked 
the , earphones from his head and 
went quickly to the hall door in 
time to catch a glimpse of Alma 
Dakin on her way to the building 
stairs, a bulging suitcase in each 
hand. 

Kirk raced for the kitchen of 3D, 
flung open the door and went down 
the rear steps with astonishing agih 
ity. He was opening the door of 
his car by the time the girl came 
out of the front entrance. He 
watched her place the bags in the 
trunk of a small sand-colored 
coupe, then slip in behind its wheel 
and start the motor. 

The coupe passed his parked car, 
turned the comer and disappeared. 
Before it had reached the next in- 
tersection, Kirk was rolling smooth- 
ly half a block to her rear. 

Two hours later both cars were 
moving along a minding country 
road, miles from civilization. Kirk 
was driving without lights, bad 
enough under favorable circum- 
stances but shet^r folly considering 
the sky was completely overcast, so 
that he was denied even the faint 
radiance of the stars. Fortunately 
there was no other traffic in this 
desolate section at eleven o'clock 
at night, so that his only danger 
■was in failing to remain on the 
twisting road. 



FINALLY, , near the crest of a 
particularly steep hill, two 
flaring red lights warned him Ms 



HOWARD BROWNE 

quarry was applying the brakes of 
her car. He cut Ms engine long 
enough to hear the coupe's motor 
die, then he swung his wheels to 
the right and coasted to a halt oa 
the soft shoulder of the i'oad. 

Under cover of bushes and trees, 
naked of foliage at this time of the 
year, Kirk worked his way silently 
ahead until' he could make out the 
dim figure of the girl as she 
dragged the pair of bags from the 
boot. Without a backward glance, 
she turned away from the road and 
an instant later was lost to sight 
among the trees. 

Tfiere was nothing of the ' fron- 
tiersman in. Lieutenant Martin 
Kirk, but fortunately the same was 
true of Alma Dakin. Where any- 
one aocustomed to moving across 
natural terrain could have lost the 
officer witli ease, in her case he 
Bced only pause briefly from time 
to time and use his ears. 

At last the seemingly intermi- 
nable forest ended and the girl sank 
wearily down on an upended suit- 
case. Kirk, perspiring freely under 
the folds of his topcoat, halted in 
the shelter of a ' tree bole, and 
waited. 

Beyond wliere the girl sat was a 
large natural clearing covered with 
a fringe of winter grass. The -silence 
was close to being absolute; only 
the faint keening of a, chill wind 
and the restless creak of barren 
branches kept it from becoming un- 
bearable. 

Gradually his eyes became more 
and more accustomed to the ab- 
sence of light worthy of the name, 
and he began to identify objects as 
something more than, formless 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO 



37 




Info his solid world had come strange and unreasonable things. 



shadows. Alnia Dakin appeared to 
be much closer to him than he had 
realized. He eyed her slim back 
male¥olently, and when she lighted 
a cigarette, the wind bringing the 
odor of tobacco to his nostrils, he 
could cheerfully have strangled her 
for adding to his torture. 

Time crawled by. An hour by 
reckoning was . ten minwtes by the 
illuminated dial of Ms wristwatch. 
His leg muscles began to twitch un- 
der the strain of holding tlie same 
position. /"Twice he managed to 
■•■hold at 'bay explosive sneezes; he 
worried at being able to do so 
again. 

The last five minutes before 



12 : 30 was like being broken on the 
rack. He caught himself straining 
his ears for the sound of a motor, 
of a faiiit humming — of anything 
to indicate Orin was arriving. 
Nothing — and at 12:30 still noth- 
ing. 

Martin Kirk had , had all he 
could take. He was t}irough stand- 
ing out on a windy hill like some 
goddam — 

Something seemed to flicker in 
tlie night air above the clearing — • 
and he was staring slackjawed at a' 
circular structure the" size of small 
house standing in the center of the 
clearing as tliough it had been 
there for years. 



38 

Before the Lieutenant could get 
his jaw off his necktie, Alma Dakin 
had uttered a cry of relief and was 
racing, toward the nearest edge of 
the gleaming vessel. A panel in its 
side slid noiselessly back and the 
tall figure of a man was outlined 
in the opening. 

"Alma!" he shouted and sprang 
to the ground to meet her. 

They came together almost ¥io- 
lently midway between, the clear- 
ing's edge and the ship. She, clung 
to him as he bent his head to meet 
her lips. 

Kirk glanced past them at the 
open portal. Dim light from within 
cast a soft glow agaiiLst the night. 
Nothing moved in the narrow seg- 
ment of the interior visible from 
where he was standing. 

And Kirk had a moment of what 
was as close to fear as he was able 
to know. A little time of bewilder- 
ment when his guard slipped just 
a trifle. What in tfie hell laas all 
this? Into his solid world had come 
strange and unreasonable things. 
Crazy ships, and people who didn't 
play according to the rules he had 
learned over thankless drudging 
years as an honest cop, A few tiny 
Ijeads of sweat formed on his upper 
lip. 

Then Hs stubborOj inherent fa- 
talism came to Hs aid. He grinned 
without humor. The hell with it, 
Whate¥er came up— a screwball 
flying saucer or a berserk psycho 
waving a gun. You played it the 
same; according to your own mles. 
This thing, whatever 'it was, 
bridged the gap to a killer. And 
when you found such a bridge, you 
crossed it. 



HOWARD BROWNE-' 

M.4RTIN KiaK, his gun clutched 
tightly, moved .like a casual 
shadow, eased Ms way along the 
hull of ship and slipped inside. 

He had never seen anytiiing like 
this. The lighting for one thing. It 
came from nowhere and somehow 
•the stuff had a mood. It seeined 
alive— an intelligent force watch- 
ing Mm, mocking him, sneering at 
him. And so potent was the mood 
of the whole setup, so sharp his 
Bt^d of release that ht muttered,' 
. "The hell wth you," and softly fol- 
lowed a circular corridor which 
curved off the hull. 

They were coming tom'ard the 
ship, Orin and Alma — coming 
while he still hunted a hole. He 
kept on going. If he met anybody 
they were going ta-jgo down. But 
he didn't. He fotmd a steel stair- 
way and a pocket at its base to hold 
his body. It wasn't a dark pocket. 
Light was everywhere. But the 
stairway Md him and th,e pair 
passed by and went on do'wn the 
corridor. 

He realized his right hand was 
aching and relaxed Ms grip on the 
gun butt he clutched. He straight- 
ened tip and the tense little mirth- 
less grin played on his lips. 

Okay. Now where was she and 
how did it work? Could he find her 
and haul her off silly til t-a- whirl? 
He thought not. Either his eyes 
were bad or this thing had ap- 
peared from nowhere. Something 
ittside snapped : Quit thinking that 
way! Whatever it looked like— 
think right. Follow th,e rules. Look 
for the daiiie. His grin deepened. 

Sure. 

He started waJMiig. Around the 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO 

eerie corridor in the direction op- 
posite that taken by Oriii and 
Alma Dakin. He walked a long 
time and there were no doors or 
anything else so the only thing to 
do was keep walking. He thought: 
When I mine to that stairway I'll 
be back where I started but 
where's that? Wliat good is a hall 
you keep g'oing around and around 
in? 

The ship lurched and threw him 
to the floor. It was going some- 
where. 

But it didn't go anywhere. Of 
that he was sure. Maybe he'd been 
fooled but it seemed the sliip set- 
tled back after that single lurch and 
lay 'there like a choice segment 
out of someone's pet nightmare. 
Kirk got to his feet and rubbed the 
place his leg had violently met 'the 
floor. 

He walked on and there was the 
steel stairway again and it was all 
¥ery damned silly -because he knew 
he'd circled the ship at least three 
times. ' 

But lucky because the footsteps 
sounded again and as he dived to- 
ward the pocket, the wall of the 
ship opened to form a doorway. 
They forgot something, he thought. 
What kind of supermen, are these? 
They can build a ship that has a 
stairway every third trip around 
and still they go away and forget 
things. ,_ 

The grin was tighter than ever. 
Whistle in the dark, boy, but admit 
it — you're scared. Sure, but what's 
that got to do .witli it? , 

Oriri and Alriia left the ship. 
Martin Kirk pushed his head 
around the staircase. He crouched 



' 39 

for sometime, staring through the 
open segment of the hull at the out- 
side' world. And his poor stupid 
orthodox mind asked a pitifully 
logical question: 

How could it get light, with the 
sun at high noon, in fifteen min- 
utes? 

After a long, motioHless time, the 
silence became such, a roaring 
thing in Kirk's ears he could stand 
it no longer. He got up aod walked 
to tile doorway. 

Something had gone somewhere; 
either the ship or the v/orld he'd 
known, because out there was a dif- 
feren,t world and he knew damn 
well he'd never seen it before. 



Chapter ¥11 



MARTIN KiMic stepped out into 
a circle of lush vegetation. 
And in doing so, he learned some- 
thing. He learned that the human 
•mind is a far more adaptable 
mechanism than most people im- 
agi,ne; that they can pelt you with 
goof balls and you get sweat on 
your lip and liave to talk to your- 
self to keep from sliding off your 
rocker, but after a wMe when 
your mind seems halfway over the 
edge, it straightens up suddenly and 
.starts going along. ,A defense 
mechanism against insanity? He 
didn't know. 

He only knew that when the 
tiger roared, he whirled around 
with, his gun leveled, s^w the six- 
inch teeth, got wholesomely and 
sanely scared, and then everything 



40 

was all right. He knew he was all 
right when he got the right reac- 
tion from sight of the almost naked 
girl holding the tiger. 

For a long niomeiit it was a 
frozen-action tableau. The huge 
orange and black*' beast. The wide 
eyed young branette nudist, and 
the tropical forest with the great 
big faft sun overhead. The girl's 
voice nailed it all down. "Don't be 
afraid. Rondo won't hurt you." 

Kirk's resentment iared warmly 
and, had resentment been a tangi- 
ble thing, he would have kissed it. 
"You're tootin' right he won't, sis- 
ter. This isn't a toy Pki holding." 

"Rondo is \'ery gentle." 

Kirk eyed the girl. "Why don't 
you put some clothes on?" 

Her teeth were as bright and 
even as little white Ij-iives but her 
smile took the edge off them. "Only 
people in the city wear clothes. I 
wear them when I'm in the city. 
When I come out here I — " 

" — you don't wear any clothes. 
Tell me — where am I?" 

"Don't you knowi'"' 

"Let's not play games. If I knew 
I wouldn't ask yoii." 

"Did you come on the ship?" 

"You saw me get out of it didiih 
you? Now answer my question." 
And he realized how certain he 
was of what her answer would be. 

"On Mythox." 

"Well fancy that. "Now tell me 
something else. Do you know what ' 
language you're speaking?" 

"Of course. English." 

"And why should you speak 
English on Mythox? Haveiih you 
got a language of your om'ii?" 

"Certainly. But you're obviously 



HOWARD BROWNE 

from Earth. I thought you were a 
Watcher. I tried English. If you 
hadn't responded I'd have spoken 
lo yoii 111 the other Earth lan- 
guages." 

"How many do you know?" 
"Eleven hundred and seventeen. 
With various dialect.?, four thou- 
sand and — " 

"There aren't that many." 
She looked puzzled. Then her 
face cleared. "Oh you mean Earth 
languages. I was referring to those 
of the Five Galaxi&s." 

I'm not going to be surprised at 
anything, he told himself doggedly. 
Not at anything. "Do you know 
anyone,' named Naia North?" 



THERE WAS a childlike serious- 
ness in her manner. It tended 
to deny the maturity of her body. 
Or was it the other way around? 
Martin Kirk wasn't sure, and grim- 
ly assured himself that he didn't 
give a. damn. 

The girl said, "I don't know any- 
one by that name. But I could find 
her for you." 

"How would you go about it?" 

"I'd go to the city and check the 
video-directory, naturally." 

"Naturally. And you'd put your 
clothes on before you went?" 

"Of course I would. We go with- 
otit clothiBg only out here in the 
playground." 

, Kirk realized he'd bet^n holding 
the gun rigidly in front of him. The 
tiger had dropped to the ground 
and lay oiit.stretched like a lazy, 
good-natured dog. Kirk lowered the 
gun, setting his eyes again on the 
girl. "A minute ago you said you 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO 

thought 1 was a Watcher. What 
did you mean?" 

He would have framed his ques- 
tions with more guile, but some- 
thing told him it wasn't necessary. 
This cliild of nature was utterly 
without guile. She said, "An Earth 
Watcher. What did you think I 
meant?" 

"I didn't know or I wouldn't 
have asked." • 

It clarified. Dakiti is matching. 
Sure. What the hell else would a 
Watcher do but watch? But why, 
and for what? Kirk was mystified. 
But it didn't matter, he asserted in- 
wardly, and turned his mind back 
to the straight line. The cop's line. 
"Will you put on your clothes and 
go into' the city and locate Naia 
North for me?" 

"If it will ■help you." 

"It will. Where can I wait for 
you?" 

"If you want to see Naia North 
why don't you come with mc?" 

Kirk shrugged. Why not? So 
long as the score was completely 
xmkiiowii to him, why not follow 
the path of least resistance? "Get 
your clothes on," he said. 

The girl turned and started lead- 
ing the tiger ^ back toward a grove 
of trees. After a few steps she 
turned bacjt, a look of .sober 
thought, on her face. "Are all 
Earthlings so a.ssertive?" she asked. 
Kirk grirified. As long as it works, 
this one is, baby. But what if it stops 
working? His reply was not audible 
and the girl turned finally to dis- 
appear into the bushes. 

Kirk then experienced a strange 
feeling of unreality which persisted 
until the girl returned. 



41 
jj _ j^^j^g jg Raima," the 

JLtJL girl, said solemnly. She 
wore tight-fitting trousers, a loose 
blouse and had a silver colored air 
car with room in back for th,e tiger. 

Kirk knew it was an air car 
when the craft lifted from the 
ground from no apparent means 
of acceleration and skimmed along 
just above the trees. He .sat beside 
Raima and asked, "About that ship 
I came here in? How fast does it 
travel and • how far is it from 
Mythox to Earth?" 

"The distance is around two 
hundred thousand light years but 
the ship doesn't really travel at all." 

"Maybe you could go into a little 
more detail," Kirk' said wearily. 

"It's very simple. Distance, as 
you Earthlings regard it, is not dis- 
tance at all. Space bends to a 
greater or lesser degree depending 
upon its immediate , function in 
whatever time-space equation' you 
are using." *• 

"Thank you very much," Kirk 
replied and silently added: Keep 
to the line. Hold to your own 
values. On Earth, wherever it is, a 
man is waiting to go to the chair 
for a nturder he didn't commit. Use 
whatever equation you want to — 
that still adds up the same. These 
people may be a lot smarter than 
you are, but they can't twist that 
one and make you believe it comes 
out any different. 

A strange city of gracefal flying 
spirals was coming over the horizon. 
It moved closer and the air car 
arced in' to a halt on a huge cement 
landing area punctuated \fith* small 
circles of a different material. 

Raima jumped from the cockpit 



42 

and Kirk followed to hear the soft 
thud of the cat's four paws landing 
beside Mm. The cat went over and 
sat do\vn on one of the circles. 
Raima followed, stood beside the 
animal and called, "Don't you want 
to go down to street level?'' 

"Of course. How stupid of me 
not to know how." 

The circle dropped silently .be- 
neath them in a bright metal tube 
in which a door soon appeared to 
let them out into a broad street 
filled with casually moving pedes-^. 
trians. Kirk noted that none of 
them seemed in any hurry; that 
here and there was an incli¥idual 
dressed like himself. Watchers on 
furlough or vacation, he thought 
a trifle bitterly. This picture was far 
from complete but enough of it 
added up to furnish a name for 
them, ^mizling was a good one. 
Perhaps'traitor was better.. 

All in all, he found one satisfac- 
' tion. He CQuld travel about as he 
pleased. 

A short walk brought them to a 
huge four or five story wall, the like 
of which Kirk had never seen. It 
was symmetrically covered with 
small, opaque, glass windows, be- 
side each of which was a dial not 
unlike the ones on Earth tele- 
phones. Catwalks of some bright 
metal covered the wall. On these 
catwalks, numerous "people were 
busy with a strange bminess Kirk 
could not follow. 

"This is the video-directoiy," 
Raima said. She gave no further 
explanation, but while Rondo laEily 
rubbed noses with a bear cub sitting 
on its haunelies waiting for its ma.-;- 
ter, she spun the dial with practiced 



HOWARD BROWNE 

efficiency. "Now, if Naia North is 
ill the city and wishes to see you, 
her image will appear in the mirror. 

'As Kirk m'atched and the bear 
slapped the grinning tiger with a 
playful paw, the opaque glass 
cleared and the tall, willowy figure 
of Naia North appeared in miiiia- 
-tiire. 

"You may speak in here," Raima 
said, solemnly indicating a small 
screened opening beside the mirror. 
"My! She's pretty, isn't she?" 

Naia North was entirely com- 
posed. She wore a pale blue gown 
and from the background in the 
mirror. Kirk gathered that she was 
at home. "Aren't you surprised?" 
Kirk asked. 

'Now a slight frown creased the 
lovely Naia's brow. "A little per- 
haps. How did you get to Mythox? 
And why did you come?" 

"A slight matter of murder. A 
murder you confessed to, or has it 
slipped your mind?" 

"Aren't you being rather absurd? 
That's all done with." 

"Not so far as Paul Gordell is 
concerned. He's going to the chair 
— only he isn't. We're going back 
and straighten a femr things out." 

Genuine -surprise was reflected 
iio%¥. And possibly a certain con- 
tempt. "My opinion of you lessens. 
I hadn't rated you as a complete 
fool. How did youiget here?" 

"The same way you did I sap- 
pose. Is there more than one way?" 

Naia's frown deepened. "Do you 
mean you were brought — ?" 

"Not intentionally. I stowed 
away on that funny round ship that 
doesn't go anywhere and ti-avels 
far." 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO ' 

Th,e beautiful brow immediately 
cleared. "Oh, I see," Naia observed 
with amusement. "And you know 
exactly how you'll get me back to 
'Earth I suppose? Thousands of 
light years. It's a long walk." 

'Til take one thing at a time and 
worry about them in order of ap- 
pearance. The main thing for you 
to remember, is this: You may be 
as smart as all get out but you broke 
an American law on American soil 
by your oWn confession and by God 
you're going back and answer for 
it!" 

"Idiot! I can have you — " 



Kirk's mood changed to the 
quizzical, "It's entirely be- 
side the point, but still I don't get 
you, baby. Why the switcheroo? 
You walked in and confessed. Then 
you took a powder. Now you sneer 
in my teeth. What do you use for a 
rudder, sweetheart." 

"I (ollovicd orders," Naia flared 
wfti a mixture of anger and suUen- 
ness. "I am now free - of the assign- 
ment." , 

.Kirk pursed his lips thoughtfully. 
"You woij1dn.'t be sort of a hatchet- 
woman for this Hgh-blown outfit 
would you? I can think offhand of 
a few other names. Kariiey. Blatz, 
Kennedy. What gives with knock- 
ing off nuclear physicists, baby?" 

Naia did n,ot an.swer. When she 
started to turn away from the mir- 
ror, Kirk glanced at the .silent 
Raima standing with^ her hand on 
the tiger's head. "Is there any way 
I can call on the lady in the mirror 
pcr.sonally?" ■ 

"Not if she doesn't want to re- 



43 

ceive you," Raimu said. She was 

studying Kirk, with wistful dark 

eyes. 

' Naia turned back quickly. "I'll 

be glad to receive you. It's time I 

taught you a lesson." 

' "Fine. What's your address?" 

But Naia was gone. The little 
mirror turned opaque. Kiri shot a 
questioning glance at Raimu. "Does 
yes mean no on thi.s cockeyed 
planet?" 

"Her car will come." .Raimu 
rrprmured". But the petite dark 
beauty seerrifed interested in other 
tilings. "You didn't tell me your 
name." 

"Sorry. Rude of me. It's Martin 
Kirk. You've been pretty nice to 
me. I wisli there was some way I 
could show my appreciation." 

"You're going • to see Naia 
North?" 

"Yes. She's a murderess. Tm tak- 
ing her back to my planet." 

'Tm afraid that wouldn't be 
possible." 

"You too, honey?" Kirk reached- 
out and flicked one of the raven 
curls. "If things were different you 
and I might be able to have fun." 

"I spend a lot of time- — where 
you found me. Maybe — " 

"I doubt if I can make it. But 
keep your clothes on after tliis— as 
a personal favor to me." 
' She was the very soul of solem- 
nity. "I don't understand you. I 
really don't understand you at all," 

At that moment, an air car — ■ 
much smaller than Raimu's, 
dropped gently Into the street be- 
side Kirk. "Good lord! Did this 
tiling smell me, out?" 

"It came to the mirror on Naia's 



44 

private wave-length. Get in. It will 
take you to her." 

Kirk crawled into the car. The 
last thing he saw before it lifted into 
the air, were Raimu's dazzling 
black eyes. The last words he heard 
were, "Goodbye, Msxitki Kirk. I 
will visualize- you." 

The car .swung up above the 
graceful, spidery 'buttresses and 
moved across the city. Kirk filled 
in the time by trying to figure out 
what made the thing go. He hadn't 
gotten to' irst base when the car 
lost altitude and caKie'' to rest on a 
balcony hung with seeming peril.- 
ousness on a •sheer white wall. Kirk 
stepped out. A large glass panel had 
been pushed back and Naia stood 
waiting in the opening. 

"Nice of you to receive me," Kirk 
said. "Have you got your bags 
packed for a trip stateside?" 

"Please come this way." 

Mala turned and moved through 
the room just off the balcony. C3ii 
the far side another door gave exit. 
She passed through it and turned 
as though waiting for Kirk. He took 
one step, two, three, four. 

Then sorrjfthing came from 
somewhere and almost tore his jaw 
off. He wgnt out in an explosion of 
black light. 



Chapter ¥11 



MK CAME TO with the feel- 
ing that Ms period of uncon- 
sciousness had been, jiiomentary. 
Naia was standing as she had stood 
before, just beyond the inner door- 



K 



HOWARD BROWNE 

way. The mocking smile was still on 
her face. "Did you trip?" 

Kirk got groggily to his feet. "H03 
angel. That's the way I always cro|s 
a room." As he came upright his 
hand reached toward the bulge 
made by his shoulder holster. But 
it didn't get that far. 

He had not seen from whence 
the first blow came but that was 
not true with the second. From a 
tiny opening in the door jamb, a 
pinpoint of Hght 'appeared. It hung 
there for a moment. Then it bright- 
eaed, expanded, and shot forth as 
a slim heam. It contained a silvery 
radiance and the kick of a Mis-souri 
mule. It slammed against_ Kirk's 
jaw, but not quite so hard this time; 
only hard enough' to send him down 
again amidst a cloud of shooting 
stars. 

He shook his head and got to his 
'hands and knees. "Wha's 'at? A- 
trained flashlight?" He 'began com- 
ing up./As soon a.s he didn't need 
his right hand for rising he reached 
for his gun. The light team seemed 
to* resent this. It hit him in the 
solar plexus this time; a sickening 
How that fed nausea down through 
his legs. He tightened his stomach 
against the agony and began get- 
ting up again, 

"You see how iiselea it is?" Naia 
asked. "Beside us, you EartUings 
are children. Will you stop being 
foolish, or must I kill you?" 

Kirk squinted craftily at the piii- 
point of light with one closed eye. 
Clever little de%'il. What the hell! 
Nude innocents. Tigers on leashes. 
Light beams that knocked your 
teeth out. Paul Cordell with a 
sha¥ed spot on his head. , ■ . :' 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO 

"You got your bag pa.cked for a 
little trip, baby?" 

For a brief moment, genuine fear 
flanied in Naia's eyes. And in. Kirk's 
mind: Dumb babe. What's she got 
to be scared of? They hit you with, 
nothing and make it stick. Kirk 
croaked, "Grab your bag, baby. 
We'll go find that flying biscuit. We 
got a date with Arthur Kahler 
Troy." 

He was really cagey this time. 
When the light, beam shot out, he 
hurled himself to the ade. But he 
could have saved the effort. A beam 
came from the other door jamb and 
he stepped right into it. That one 
really tore his head off. 



SOMEBODY was talking. It wa.s a 
man and he had a deep re- 
sonant voice: a voice full of 
authority— and censure, "I'm sur- 
prised at you Naia. I never sus- 
pected you of having a sadistic 
streak." 

Naia's suUeo reply. "Do you 
think anyone can do the work I do 
and remain unmarked?" 

"I suppose not. But as I remem- 
ber it, you asked to serve." 

"As a benefit to humanity." 

"We woa't go into it." 

But Naia pressed the poiot. "I 
have always followed orders. I 
placed myself in possible jeopardy 
on Earth by clearing Paul Cordell." 

"But Paul Cordell was not 
cleared." 

"Mot through any fault of mine." 

"But %vhy this? What end does 
* torturing tliis poor unfortunate , 
serve?". 

Martin Kirk ea,utiousIy opened 



45 

one eye. It brought to liis brain the 
image of a large blue globe. A man 
of fine mid commanding appear- 
ance stood witiiin the globe, sus- 
pended about a foot from the floor. 
The globe and the man gave every 
indication of having just come 
through the opaque glass wall of 
the room, and as Kirk watclied, the 
man was lowered slowly to the 
floor and the globe became a blue 
mist that spiralled lazily and was 
gone. 

Kirk opened both eyes now, 
stirred, and- climbed dizzily' to his 
feet. "You bump into the damndest 
tilings around here," he said, "But 
let's get down to the important 
business. My name is Martin Kirk. 
I'm an American police officer. 
One of your subjects committed a 
murder on American soil. I hope 
you aren't goiog to be difficult 
about extradidon."- 

The other could not hide his sur- 
prise. Nor did he try to. "Amazing," 
he murmured. Then, "1 am Tamu, 
the overlord of the galaxy. I won- 
der if Naia's cruelty hasn't affected 
your mind?" 

"If you mean I'ra nuts, I think 
maybe you're right. But it wasn't 
little Playful here who did it. ,Fve 
gone through a lot and I don't 
speak with any sense of bragging. 
I've seen ftipre fuilny things happen 
than any one'"man should see in so 
short a time. So maybe I am off 
my rocker. ,So I'd like your permis- 
sion to take my prisoner back to 
Earth so I can give all my time to 
regaining my sanity." 

Tarnu regarded ' Kirk with 
thoughtful eyes. "I think we should 
have a talk." « 



46 

"I would like a talk. I would like 
nothing better than to cliew the 
fat with you for hours on end if my 
jaw didn't hurt so damned much. 
So Fll just take my prisoner and 
go. Do I have to sign a paper or 
something?" 

The overlord's surprise was fast 
becoming a kind of fascinated awe. - 
"Kirk, you said?" He pointed to 
the door leading to the inner room. 
"Please go in, sir. There's no use 
of otir .stancliflg out here while we 
discuss your problem." 

Tile Lieutenant eyed the door 
frame warily. "I tried getting 
through there before but the light 
got ill my eyes!" 
"You can trust me." 
The police officer stepped cau- 
tiously through the opeiiing and on 
into a luxuriously furnished room. 
Tamil, dressed much the same as 
one of Earth's better bankers, fol- 
lowed Mm in and suggested he sit 
down. 

"Why?" Kirk demanded bluntly. 
"Let's stop kitten-and-micing 
around, Mr. Tamil, I'm not com- 
fortable here and I want to leave. 
With her," He tilted his head to- 
ward the watching, sullen-faced 
Naia North. "And now." 

Tamil said, "Believe me, it will 
be as easy for you to return to Earth 
aB hour from" sow. You seem m'eary 
to the point of exhaiistion. I ask 
you again: sit down and get back 
some of your strengtli. Naia will 
find you something to eat." 

Kirk's stubborn determination to 
force an immediate showdown 
wavered. It had been bom largely 
of fear to begin with, and ■ the 
thought of relief for his burning 



HOWARD BROWNE 

throat was impossible to resist. 

"I could use a drink," he ad- 
mitted. 



T-AMf GESTURED and Naia 
North turned to leave the 
room. But Kirk leaped forward to 
block her off. "Nothing doing! ■ I 
don't take my eyes off yoii, baby. 
I'll just pass up that drink." 

The girl glanced at the overlord 
and shrugged helplessly. Tamu said, 
"Have a girl bring in something. 
While we're waiting I suggest all 
three of us get comfortable." 

While Naia was .speaking into a 
tiny screen Kt into one of the silk- 
covered walls, Tamu and the man 
from Earth sat down across from 
each other on a pair of fragile- 
legged^ chairs. The overlord leaned 
back and sighed. "Ydu've asked my . 
leave to return to Earth and to take 
Haia back with you to stand trial 
for murder. Have you considered 
that I may refuse that permission?" 

"I don't think I have to con- 
sider it," Kirk said promptly. 

"You don't?" Tamu was mysti- 
fied again. "Why not?" 

"You tell me you're the overlord. 
I take that to mean you're in 
^ charge. That means you have laws 
to go¥erri your people and that 
means you believe in laws. One of 
your subjects has broken the law of 
my country. You can't refuse to let 
her take the consequences aay more 
than if the situaticn was reversed." 

Tamu was .shaking his head and 
smiling slightly. 'T'lii afraid you're 
not- taking into consideration orrf 
fact, Mr. Kirk. Naia North broke^ 
your law, as you call itj on express 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO 



47 



and definite instructions from me." 

Martin Kirk made a show of as- 
tonishment. "Let me get this 
straight. You ordered Professor Gil- 
more and ' Juaaita Cordell mur- 
dered? Is that wliat you're telling 
me?" 

"Yes " 

"Why?" ' 

"Exactly tlie reason I suggested 
we have a talk. To make you see 
why they — and others in the same 
classification — could not be allowed 
to live." 

"Men like Kaniey? Kennedy? 
Blatz?" 

Tamil blinked. "My respect for 
you increases, Martin Kirk." 

"Don't let' it throw you. I'm a 
police. officer, and police officers are 
trained to do the job right." 

The overlord crosed his legs and 
settled deeper into the chair. 
"Mythox needs men like you, Mar- 
tin Kirk. That is why I'm going to 
give you a, chance for life. For this 
yo'u must understand: if I wanted 
it, you would be dead within sec- 
onds." 

A chill slid along tlie stubborn 
back of the Lieutenant but nothing 
showed ill Ms impassive expression " 
aod he did not speak. 

"But because we do need you, I 
am going to tell you things no 
Earthman knows. I believe that 
once you understand why Mythox 
has undertaken to meddle in the 
affairs of another world — and I tell 
you frankly that our doing so is as 
abhorrent to us as anything you can 
imagine — once you understand our 
reasons, you will cheerfully, even 
eagerly, join us." 

"And if I don't?" 



"You know the answer to that, 
I'm sure." 



A SLIM FAiR-HAiREi> girl in a pale 
green toga-like dress entered 
the room carrying a tray holding 
tall glasses of some sparkling blue 
beverage. She offered it fir.st to 
Kirk, then the others. The Lieu- 
tenant removed one of tlie glasses, 
waited until Tamu and Naia had 
done the same, but not until they 
had drunk some of the iquid did he 
tilt Ms own glass.- The cold tangy 
liquid hit him like a bombshell — a 
bombshell on the pleasant side. He 
could almost literally - feel his 
strength flow back, his senses 
sharpen and the poisons of fatigue 
and mental strain disappear. 

'T'm listening," he said. 

Tamu set his glass on the edge of 
a nearby table and bent forward, 
his inaaner earnest. "It won't tate 
long, Martin Kirk. Hear me. We of 
Mythox are far in advance of the 
peoples of Earth— both spirittially 
afld scientifically. Life on our plinet 
materialized in much the same 
manner as on, your owii world, but 
countleiis ages before. Almost the 
same process of evolution took 
place ; but somewhere along the line 
humanity on -Mythox managed to 
reach full development without tlie 
flaws of character found among so 
many of Earth's inhabitants. When 
I tell you that we find it almost im- 
possible to voice an untruth, that 
taking a human life willluUy for 
any reason is equally difficult, that 
crkne of any nature is almost un- 
known here— then you will see the^ 
difference between the two planets. 



48 

"For ages our scientists have ob- 
served the events takiBg place on 
Earth. By perfecting a rnethod for 
changing matter from terrene to 
contraterrene, we have managed to 
bridge the million light years of 
space separating our worlds as we 
saw fit. Thousands of years ago we 
could have gained control of your 
ball of clay and turned inaiiHnd 
into any pattern we might choose. 

"That is not our way, Martin 
Kirk. Free will is our heritage too— 
and we respect it in oursekes, and 
for that reason must respect it in 
others. So long as Earth's peoples' 
confined their more clestrtictive 
tendeocies to themselves we kept 
our hands off— even while we failed 
to understand such'' senseles.? con- 
duct. 

"And then one day we witnessed 
an explosion on. Earth's surface— aii 
explosion different from any of 
the countless ones before it, That 
explosion was the first m^ii-inade 
release of atomic energy— a process 
we had knovm ho%v to bring about' 
for ages, but one we would never 
use. For we have learned tlie secret 
of limitless power without the 
trtnsforniation of mass into energy. 
Your way is the way of destruction, 
Martin Kirk; ours is exactly the 
opposite. 

, "For the first time, the leaders of 
Mythox knew the meaning of fea.r 
—fear that, once Earth's scientists 
had found the secret of nuclear fisf 
sioa, they would go on to the one 
extreme forbidden throiighotit the 
Universe itself. . 

"And so we acted. Not in the 
way your people would 'hme. acted 
were the sitiiation»reverseo. For we 



HOWARD BROWNE 

were stil determined that there 
woufd be no intervention on owr 
part in Earth's affair.s— and that is 
still our way, just as it must always 
be. But there must be one exception 
to this rule: no one on Earth must 
be allowed, to blunder into the ex- 
treme I mentioned a moment ago." 



TAMU, overlord of Mythox, 
paused to drink from his glass 
and to cast a speculative glance at 
the stolid face of Martin Kirk. He 
might as well have studied the con- 
totirs of a brick wall. 

"The road to that blunder had 
been opened the day your learned 
men first split the atom. If they per- 
sisted down that path, it was bound 
to follow that they would attempt 
the thing we feared : the splitting of 
hydrogen atoms— the hydrogen 
bomb, as you call it. 

"We know what that wotild. 
mean : a chain reaction that would 
wipe out an entire galaxy in one 
Minding flash. Oar galaxy, Martin 
Kirk— yours and mine! Do you 
.have any thought at all on what 
that means?" 

The question was rhetorical; 
even before Kirk could .shake Ms 
head, the overlord pressed on, 

"Mythox and Earth are two 
grains of dust on opposite sides of 
a ga.laxy— -a spiral formation of 
stars and planets 200,000 light years 
wide and 20,000 thick. Between us 
lie countless other worlds, a vast 
niimlJer of tlieia snpportiag life— ' 
not always, or even often, life as we 
know it, but life non.etheless. 

"There is not one of those worlds, 
Martin Kirk, we do not faiow as 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO 

thoroughly as we do our own. 
Fortunately for our purpose only a 
relative few have progressed along 
a line which can lead to danger for 
the rest. Yours is one of those which 
has — and that is why we of 
Mythox have taken a well-masked 
place in your affairs so far as tluf 
relate to nuclear physics. 

"Ever)' scientist of your world, 
male or female, is constantly under 
the eye of a Watcher. These 
WatchcK. are members of your owa 
races — people we have eolisted in 
the fight to save not just tlieir world 
or mine — ^biit millions of worlds. 

"When a Watcher learns a phys- 
icist is close to the one key to suc- 
cess ill his effort to make a hydrogen 
bomb — an equation that begins: 
'Twelve times zero point seven 
nine' — we are notified and a killer 
from our own people is sent to 
execute tliat scientist. Yes, Martin 
Kirk, we have those among us — a 
very few— who are capable of kill- 
ing on orders and for catise. Naia, 
here, is one of them. She v/as sent 
to take the lives of Gregory Gilmore 
and Juanita Cordell; but she 
bungled and instead of their deaths 
resembling heart failure, they were 
obviously murdered. 

"Alma Dakiii tried to cover up 
the truth by making it appear both 
scientists had died at the hands of 
a jealous husband. She succeeded, 
both because of her perjured testi- 
mony and the fact that Paul Cor- 
deli insisted on telling the truth. 
But when v/e of Mythox learned 
what had happened, Naia was sent 
back to confess the crime. She en- 
tered the laboratory oaly a fe%? 
hours before she came .to your 



49 

office; while she was in the labora- 
tory the second time, the clues you 
found were put there. 

"Our mistake was in thinking 
that, once proof was offered clear- 
ing Cordel, the innocent man 
would be freed. For once more we 
credited Earthlings with the same 
code of ethics we of Mythox adhere 
to. 

"You succeeded in following 
Haia here. Only a man composed' 
of equal parts of Earth bulldog and 
genius could have done so. Martin 
Kirk, I offer you a place among us 
and a lifetime dei^oted to making 
sure the galaxy of which we botlt 
are a part does not perish. What 
say you?" 

Several minutes dragged by. The 
eyes of both Tamu and Kaia North 
were glued to the pim visage of 
Homicide Lieutenant Kirk. It was 
impossible for either of them to 
know what thoughts, were churning 
behind that stone face. 

Abruptly he stood up. *Tm a 
cop. I leave your kind of problem 
to the people who ai-e good at it. 
My people, Tamu.. You see, I be- 
long to my world, not to yours. 

"But you've got a solid argument 
• — one I'd be a fool not to consider. 
Let me sleep on it. Tomorrow 
morning we'll talk about it some 
more; tfien Fit give you my answer. 
Right now I'm too worn out to 
think in a straight line." 

"Of course." The overlord rose 
to Ills feet. "Find Martin Kirk com- 
fortable quarters, Naia, and leave 
orders he is not to be disturbed until 
he is ready to join us," 

On Ms way down a corridor be- 
hind the sarne slip of a girl who had 



50 ■■ 

brought, him Ms drink, Martin Kirk 
was tliiriHiig: They didn't even 
frkk me for a gun! 

Martin Kirk went into his apart- 
ment and lay for a while looking at 
tlie ceiliag. After a time, lie got up 
and went out again. 



Chapter IX 



THE SOFT silvery radiance which 
this planet seemed to feature, 
bathed the metal liaflway as Kirk 
inarched stolidly toward the siiiii 
arcing stairway that led toward 
Naia's floor. This was certainly a 
strange building, he thought. The 
architects of Mythox knew how to 
use air¥es. They 'iitiliEed them for 
utility and beauty to a point where 
a straight line was something to be 
surprised at. Pretty smart people, 
the Mythoxians— in more ways 
tlian one. 

And Kirk, for no apparent rea- 
son, thought of a phrase comirloii 
among children during his own 
childhood. "Who died and left you 
boss?" 

He counted the markings over 
one 'door. He had seen those mark- 
ings before. Naia Nortli lived here. 

And Naia North was in. Kirk 
walked softly across the large foyer 
room and quietly pushed open a 
dc»r to the left. Naia, clad as al- 
ways, in beauty, lay sleeping 011 a 
bed thai sttwd out from the wall on 
two narrow rods of metal and 
needed no other support. 

As KiA opened his mouth, Naia 
awakened, so she was looking calm- 



HOWARD BROWNE 

ly at him as he spoke. "Up, baby. 
You've got a date with a iiot elec- 
trode a lot of light years from here. 
It's a hike, so rise and sMne." , 

Naia sat up very slowly, very 
gracefully. She was what men 
dream of finding in bed beside 
them. What they marry to keep in 
bed beside them, 

"You must be mad." 

"As a hatter, baby. Into your 
duds." He saw her glance at the 
door Jamb of the Ijedrooai en- 
trance, saw the shadow of disap- 
pointment in her lovely eyes. "You 
didn't put those Joe Louis light rays 
in your bedroom, did you?" 

Naia set her feet on the Boor and 
drew herself to her full height. She 
wore Kght blue, a gown that hung 
as had that of Guinevere, as that of 
the Maid of Shalot. 

But Naia %va,"5 contempt. She was 
contempt clothed in cold blue, then 
contempt naked as she allowed the 
gown to fall to tiie ioor. A few min- 
utes later, she was conteiBpt dotlied 
for the street in tight britches and 
a loose blouse. 

"You go irst," Kirk said. "And 
do as you're told. You may be a 
Mythoxiaii, but this .45 doesn't 
know that. It puts Hg holes in any- 
body." 

As Naia walked serenely toward 
the hall door, there was only a 
touch of sulleniiess at the comers of 
her mouth. She . turned her head 
to speak over her shoulder. "Hiding 
"behind a woman, brave Eartli- 

"Yes and no. I'm hiding behiBd 
a woman from those damn straight- 
left raysj and I'm not a brave 
Earthinaa. I spend most of my time 



TWELVE TIMES ZERO 

scared to death. That's why all of 
us are getting back to Earth quick, 
so 1 can draw an easy breath." 

"All of us?" 

"Oil yes. Didn't I tell you? 
You're taking me to the places I 
can find Alma Dakin and Orin. 
We're going to have witnesses and 
testimony. And the party who gets 
bumed isn't going to be Paul Cor- 
delL" 

"Iwon't-^"' 

"Hold it, honey." 

Kirk Iiad picked up two items 
upon lea¥ing Naia's apartment, A 
pair of ilmy silk stockings and a 
white scarf. He jerked Naia's hands 
behind her back- in somewhat of a 
surprise move. Before she 'recov- 
ered, her wrists were tightly bound. 
She gasped, "You — madman," just 
before he deftly pulled the scarf 
across her mou'th and twisted it into 
an effective gag. He stepped back 
to admire Ms handywork. 

•'Now we're all ready. Orin and 
Alma," 

Naia shook her head in a slow 
negative. Kirk pushed her gently 
into the hall and rounded to face 
her. "Yes, baby," he said. "You 
ought tp know now I won't be 
stopped. I need Orin to fly that 
space btiggy. If I don't get him we 
can't go. Then there'd be nothing 
left for me to do but even the score 
for Paul Cordell. He'll have to go 
but you'll keep him -company." 

Naia stood like ' a statue, ap- 
parently considering. Then she 
moved slo%vly down the corridor in 
the opposite direction from which 
Kirk had eome. Down three curv- 
iog tlights and stopping finally, in 
front of a door identical to her own. 



51 

I, 

Kirk stepped forward and fcaned 
firmly on the knob. The door 
opened. He knew where the bed- 
room was in these apartments now. 
He pushed Kaia ahead of Mm, into 
the bedroom and .saw Alma lying 
with her eyes closed. 

Kirk whirled, jii.st in time to level 
his gun and bring Orie to a dead 
stop. "Over by the bed, high-bom." 
As Orin complied. Kirk leered at 
Naia. "That was clever, but I had 
it doped. I spotted them for hus- 
band aod wife or the Mythox 
equivalent quite some time back. A 
good chance shot toTielL" 

"What do you want here?" Orin 
t3,einanded. 

"A chauffeur. We're heading 
Earthward on the first ship. That's 
the one out Id the jungle," 

"But you talked to Tamu. I 
thought-^" 

"I'd been suckered? No no my 
friend ! On ^the force they called me 
the boy with the one-track mind." 

"I can see what they meant/' 
Orin sighed. 

"I thought you would. Tell your 
wife to get dressed. We're getting 
an air-sled." 

"You might have the decency 



'T won't turn niy back. You can 
stand between us. That's' the best I 
can do." 

ALMA DRESSED swiftly ill a 
co.stume similar to Naia's. 
When they were ready to leave, 
Kirk said, "Now let's get it straight 
once and for all. Til stand for no 
fast moves.'Ifs Earth, or some quick 
slugs. Do you follow me?" 

They' cEd not speak but they exi- 



52 ^ , 

dently believed Kirk because, fif- 
teen minutes later, the party of four 
stood beside the ugly ship while 
thick trees and grasses whispered 
around thern. 

"Inside." 

In the corridor, Orin stopped 
and turned as though having 
thought of a convincing argument 
lie was bent upon trying. Kirk 
poised him sharply in the ribs with 
the barrel of the .45 and he moved 
on after the women toward the lad- 
der and thence to the motor room. 

Once inside, Orin turned and 
spoke sharplv. "Won't you recon- 
sider?" 

"Push the levers, Jack. The right 
ones." 

"Tamu is a reasonable man. We 
could talk to him again. He would 
make even a more generous offer." 

"I'm waiting." 

"Certainly you did not refute the 
logic of Ms argument? We are in, 
the right. Our case is just. The 
galaxies must be protected from — " 

"The right levers, Jack." 

"—from those who through ig- 
norance, stupidity,' or ferocity 
would destroy it." 

"One more minute of^this and 
there'll be dead people aboard this 
ship." 

"You're helpless, really. You 
can't fly tills sMp without me. 
Therefore my life is safe. I merely 



HOWARD BROWNE 

refuse to launch it." 

"Would you like a dead wife?" 

Orin whitened perceptibly. 

"She may be a wife to you, but 
to me she's just a doll who helped 
lie a man into the chair." 

"You wouldn't do ft! You 
haven't got the nerve to shoot down 
a man or a woman, in cold blood." 

Kirk looked steadily into Orin's 
eyes. "You don't believe that do 
you, bud?." ■ 

Orin held the gaze for a long 
time. Then he dropped his eyes. 
"No. I don't believe it." 

"Then get to work." 

"One last offer. Won't you re- 
consider. Join us?" 

"No!" 

"Very well" 

And Orin, a fixed, taut look on 
his face, reached forth his hand 
and touched a button on the panel 
board. It was a very ^ special button. ' 

A button for use only when all 
hope was gone. 

The exploding space-time ship 
lighted the countryside to blinding 
brilliance. 



A.P. Jan, 21st-— Shortly after 
midHigbt today, Paul Cordell, con- 
victed killer in the famous "wom- 
an from Mars'*' case, was put to 
death in the electric chair at the 
state penitentiary. 



- THE END • 



The Stowaway 



By Al-^in Heiner 



He stole a ride to the Moon in search of 
glory, but found a far different destiny. 



HIS EYES were a little feverish 
— as they liad been of late — 
and his voice held a contin- 
uous intensity— as though he were 
imparting a secret. IVe got to get 
on ttiat ship! I've got to, I tell you! 
And I'm going to make itl" 

Different members of the group 
regarded him variously, 'some with 
amusement, some with coiitempt, 
others with frank curiosity. 

"You're plain nuts, Joe. What do 
you want to ,go to the moon for?" 

"Sure, why you wanna go? What 
they got on the mooa we aiiit got 
right here?" 

There was general laughter from 
the dozen or so who sat eating their 
lunch in the shade of Building B. 
They all thought that was a pretty 
good one. Good enough to repeat. 
"Sure, what they got on the moon 
we ain't got here?" 

But Joe Spain wasn't m the 
mood for jokes. He burned with 
even gi'eater conviction and stood 



up as though to harangue the 
workers. "You wanta know why I 
got to go to the moon? -Why I'Ve 
got to get on that ship? Then I'll 
tell you. It's 'cau.se I'm a little guy 
— that's why! Joe Spain — working 
stiff — one of the great inarticulate 
masses." 

More laughter. "Where'd you get 
those big words, Joey? Out of a 
book? Come on — talk English!" 

Joe Spain pointed to the huge, 
tubelike Building A, off across the 
desert ;• the building you had to- 
have, tm'o different- pa.5scs and a 
written permit to enter. The mys- 
tery ^ builtling where even newspa- ' 
per reporter.? were barred. "It's 
only the big shots they let in there 
ain't it? Only them that's got a 
drag or went to college or some- 
thing. Us little guys they tell go to 
blow — ain't that right?" 

"Who the hell caies?^ Maybe it's 
a damn good place to- stay away 
from. Maybe it'll explode or sonie- 



53 



54 

thing. Who wants to die and collect 
Ills insurance?" 

"I got to get on that ship when it 
blasts off because they cao't push 
the masses around! We got a right 
to be represented even if we got to 
saeak ib!" 

"Me — I'll stay on the ground." 

"And besides there's the glory! 
You guys are too stupid t» see that 
but it's there. The glory of being 
on the first rocket ship to the 
Moon. The name of Joe Spain 
, written down io the history books 
aod said 0¥er by people and school 
kids for thousands of years! Immor- 
tality! That's the word!" 

"Well, just forget about it, Joe, 
'cause you ain't going." 

Joe Spain's eyes burned brighter. 
"Joe Spain, coining down the ramp 
with the big ' shots when it's all 
over. News cameras snapping! Peo- 
ple asking for interviews!" 

"But you ain't goiag 'cause—" 

Joe shouted the man down. "And 
another thing. Us little people are 
entitled to a representative aboard 
that ship. We got a right to know 
what's going on. How come there's 
nothing about it in the papers? 
Only the big shots knowing about' 
it and whispering among them- 
selves? It's because they're trying 
to snag it all and freeze us out!" 

"You're crazy. It's for security 
reasons. It's all hush-hush so it 
won't leak out like the atom bomb 
did. The big boys are being smart 
this time." 

"And you ain't getting on," the 
interrupted man repeated dogged- 
ly, "because there ain't a way in 
God'.s world to gel on. With triple 
security all around the building 



ALVIN HEINER 

just tell nie a way to get in. Just 
tell me one." 

"I'm going to get on that shipi' 
Joe Spain said. Then he clammed 
up suddenly. Joe Spain wasn't 
stupid. He was a talker, but he 
knew when to stop sounding off. 

The men went back to work 
shifting the big aluminum barrels 
from trucks into Building B. Carry- 
ing the wooden crates and the pa- 
per ¥/rapped parcels up the ramps 
and to the side of the building fac- 
ing big secret structure labeled A. 
They worked until 'five o'clock. 
Then they filed out and got into the 
waiting trucks and were hauled 
back to town; the boom town that 
had mushroomed up in the desert 
overnight and would die with the 
same swiftness when the project 
-was completed. 



JOE WENT straight to his room- 
ing house, washed up, put on his 
good clothes, and found a stool in a 
nearby restaurant. He ate a leisure- 
ly supper, , glancing now and again 
at the clock. When the clock read 
eight, he went out into the neon- 
stained darkness and walked three 
blocks to the Black Cat, one of the 
three night clubs the desert tQwn 
boasted. He went to the bar and 
ordered a drink. He do\¥ned it 
slowly, carefully, after the manner 
of a man who wanted to stay sober. 

A half -hour passed before a thin, 
ner\-ous individual elbowed to 
the bar an,d stood -beside him. Joe 
said, "Hello, Nick. You been think- 
ing it over?" 

«I need a drink." 

"Sure, Mck. Then we'll go some 



THE STOWAWAY 



55 



place and talk." But Nick got rid of 
five drinks while Joe protected his 
own glass from tlie barkeep. After 
a while, Joe said, "I'm willing to 
up the price, Nick. "Two thousand 
-^ash. All I got." 

"Le's get out o' here/' Nick 
mumbled. 

They walked out of the town and 
into the desert, Nick stumbling now 
and again, to be supported by the 
ten.se, sober Joe. "Two thousand, 
Nick. You need the dough." 

"Sure. Need the dough. But it 
wouldn't work. Couldn't get you 
into one o' them barrels." 

"You wouldn't Iiave to. All I ask 
is that you come along in the morn- 
ing and seal me up in one. All you'll 
have to do is lock on.tiic lid." 

"How you know the .barrel#are 
going on the ship?" 

"Never mind about that. I Just 
kiiow.^ I paid to find out." 

"Okay— suppose you do get on 
the ship in a barrel. Maybe it'll be 
stored in I hold somewhere. May- 
be diey wouldn't open it ¥ery soon. 
You'd die." 

"I got a way to ffet out. One of 
them .special torches. The little 
ones. Aluminum isn't very strong. 
I can cut it like butter." 

"It'd be hot. You'd burn your- 
self." 

"Let me worr)' about that," Joe 
said fiercely. "Yoti, want the two 
grand or not?" 

Nick wanted the two thousand 
and he was agaiost the wall for ex- 
cuses. Then he had a happy 
thought, "Barrels is air-tight. You'd 
smother. Thing's ini— impracac'l. 
We'll forget it." 

"I won't smother. I'm taking my 



own oxygen. Enough to last me 
clear to the Mood if it has to. Come 
on. Breals down!" 

"Okay. For two grand. Got to 
have tlio dough now though." 

His heart singing, Joe Spain 
counted out two thousand in cash. 
When he'd finished he had- exactly 
nine dollars left. He was a pauper. 
But the happiest pauper who ever 
bought with his whole fortune, the 
thing he craved most. 

"YoE won't doublecross me now, 
will you? If you've got any ideas 
like that---" 

•Til do like we said. Nick Sparks 
never went back on Ills word — nev- 
er. But how you going to stay hid 
wh.en it's time to leave work?" 

"Leave that to me. It'll be easy. 
They don't check Building B too 
close. No double check 'cause it's 
over a mile from BnildingA — out- 
.side the safety perimeter. I'll stay in 
tomorrow iiiglit and I'll put a Mt- 
tle chalkniark on the barrel I'm in 
— right near the top rim. First 
thing you do when you come to 
work the next morning is .seal it and 
line it up with the filled ones." 

"Okay, but I gotta go home now. 
I got a head. I gotta get some 
sleep." 



^^%A/HAT'S in the duffel bag?" 
V ¥ "Glean overalls — ^towel," 
Joe pulled the zipper down half- 
way. Tlie guard fingered the blue 
denim but didn't dig deeper to find 
tlie towel. He checked Joe's badge 
number, made a note on his pad, 
and motioned to the next worker, 
oe let tight breath .dowly out of 
ltmg.s as he walked towaid 



56 ' 

■ Building B. Getting past the guard 
was a load off Ms mind. He'd ex- 
pected to get by, but it was OBe of 
the calculated risks that could have 
stopped liim cold. 

Once inside the building, lie put 
the bag into his Iccker and went to 
work. He labored briskly and car- 
ried more than Ms share of th,e 
load, But now again he stopped to 
look over at the outline of Building 
A, limned hard against hot blaz- 
ing sky. And each time it was with 
a sense of heady exhilaration that 
he thought of his destiny — his liard 
earned, dearly bought destiny. To 
be among that select group who 
wottld first set foot upon the sur- 
face of the Moon! 

He had no v/orries about not be- 
ing allowed to do so. Once he 
sho¥/ecl himself — with the ship far 
out in space— they'd have to accept 
him. Not graciously of course, but 
they'd have to admire his courage 
and tenacity. They could not in all 
humanity, deny Mm a share of thd 
victory. 

The day wore on and as quitting 
time approached, he became more 
tensC' — more alert. Five minutes be- 
fore the v/histle, he faded back into 
the building and hurried to the 
lavatory. He went into' the booth 
furthest from the entrance and 
locked the door. Now there was 
nothiag to do but wait. Another of 
the calculated risks. 

The whistle blew. Almost ini- 
niecliately, the sound of footsteps 
broke th,e silence' and the lavatory 
was filled with hurrying men. Their 
stay in the room was short, how- 
evet, as Joe had known it wouH be. 
Men leaving for home do not daw- 



ALVlN HEINER 

die on the premises. 

The lavatory was empty again. 
A period of silence while Joe raised 
his feet from the floor and braced 
thern on the toilet seat. The en- 
trance door opened. A guard mak- 
ing the departure checkup. 

Joe held his breath. If the guard 
came down the line and tried the 
door, he was finished. But Joe had 
banked upon human nature. The 
guard stopped. For a long moment 
there was no sound and -Joe knew 
the man was bending over to run 
his eyes down the line of toilets 
close to the floor. In this' manner 
he could see the floor of every 
booth. The guard straightened, 
turned, walked out. The door 
closed. Silence. Joe's heart swelled 
with gratitude. He grinned, looking 
forward with joy to .the long night 
ahead. 

He found a spot over behind the 
barrels where the night watchman 
would have to climb over a lot of 
equipment in order to find him. He 
made himself comfortable, prac- 
tically certain the guard 'would not 
do this. He stretched out on the 
hard floor and recorded the passing 
of the hours by the number of times 
the watchman went through. 

And he was surprised at how 
fast the time passed. Finally, check- 
ing his count carefully, he left liis 
hiding place and tiptoed to the line 
of lockers. He took tlic oxygen 
equipment from the duffd bag af- 
ter which he hid the bag anti the 
clothing therein behind a wall 
flange in a far corner.. Then he 
climbed into the barrel at the frout 
end of the packing line. He checked 
the barrel with a small X' and 



THE STOWAWAY 
jockeyed tiie lid into place. 

» 

TIME PASSED. Nothing hap- 
pened. He wondered , if he'd 
missed on tlie time element. The 
men should certainly have come to 
work now. More than once he was 
|emptecl to push the barrel lid 
aside and check- the situation. 
When footsteps sounded, close by, 
and 'tlie lid snapped irmly into 
place, lie was glad he hadn't done 
so. Good old Nick! When he got 
back from the Moon, he'd see to it 
that Nick got credit for his coura- 
geous act. 

Soon the barrel begao to move. 
Joe felt it rise into the air and settle 
with a tliuiiip. Theo the motor of a 
truck roared and Joe knew where 
he was going. .Straight toward 
Building A and the Moon rocket. 
There was more movement until 
finally^ the barrel was set down for 
what appeared to be the last time. 
Joe put the nose-piece of the oxy- 
gen tube into place and visualized" 
hiinself safe and snug in a storage 
.room of the rocket. 

He closed his eyes and went 
peacefully to sleep. 

He slept 'a longtime, to be awak- 
eoed by a crushing— a wrenching— 
that all but drove his head down 
into his spine. The pain brought 
him sharply alert. He knew instant- ' 
ly what had liappened. 
' Blast-off. 

He braced himself against the 
sides of the barrel and gritted his 
teeth. " ■■ 

Soon it was better. Then no pres- 



57 

sure at all. Only the fierce happi-" 
iiess on his heart. He'd set a course 
and won throttgh! He was on the 
way to the Moon! 

Joe let plenty of time elapse. He 
knew it was well over an, hour later 
when he unlioiberecl tlie torch to 
cut an escape-hole in the barrel 
This, he ImeWj would be tricky. 
He could easily burn himself. The 
heat would be intease. 

But it wasn't too bad. The alum- 
iniim cut quickly and in a matter 
of minutes, he was standing beiside 
his barrel. As he'd suspected, it was 
a, storage hold. The pitch darkness 
did not bother him. He'd come pre- 
pared with a small pencil flash 
that threw an adequate beam. 

He^ found the door, opened it 
mnd went out into a long passage- 
way . . . 

NOW HE'D covered the length 
and breadth of the .diip- He'd 
found a lot of rooms — all in pitch- 
darkness. No observation ports. 

And no living thing. 

He stood frozeo in one of the 
rc»ms^ while the beam of Ms flash 
picked out a code stenciled on a 
steel plate over some piece of ma- 
chiner)'. X59-306MY— Experimen- 
tal— E.\plosion Rocket— Moon. 

The flash dropped from Joe 
Spain's .fingers. He stood in the 
•pitch darkness while the jets vibrat- 
ed through the rocket. 

But tliere was no fea^ in Mm. 
Only the great pain of futility. Only 
his tears, and his whispered words : 

"They'll never know. Nobody 
won't e¥er know!" 



THE END 




',t was Beauty— -she was 
• I ination—shi was Death. 



Bitter Victor v 

By WALTER MILLER, Jr. 

Klia had a beautiful body. And 
why not? She made it herself. 



HE PROWLED the city's 
streets by night, watching 
the crowds with, eyes of 
gray steel, waiting for Klia's prob- 
ing thoughts to touch some unwary 
Terran. _ Sooner or later she would 
have to betray herself to him if 
slie meant to pursue her goal. And 
tlien he would kill her and go. This 
was Ms task, set for liim by the di- 
rector of the Elioeiiician Quaran- 
tine Gommissioii. 

He had been here six months, 
and'' thus far tlie only evidence of 
her presence was a series of articles 
in a technical journalj written by 
a certain Willa E. Foggerty, 
M.S. The author had access to in- 
formation possesad by no Terran 
scientist. The information was pre- 
sented tidbit-style, almost humor- 
ously, ^and as pure speculation 
rattier than as fact, but it was ob- 
viously calculated to steer the 
minds.' of readers toward certain 
dcxjrs that Klia wanted opened, 

Klia's mental fonnative-patterns 



were those of the paranoid, but 
having matured in a society where 
such patterns were the norm, she 
was neither insane nor neurotic. 
Her mind was keen, and her glials 
were those of the predator, San 
Rorrck had tq find and kill her 
quickly. 

He watched the streets by night 
because her race and Ms were both 
non-sleepers. They were capable of 
resting a part of the brain at a time, 
having two cortical areas for each 
bodily function. He knew she would 
become bored by night-time inac- 
tivity; sooner or later she would 
come wandering, while most of- the 
city slept. In what guise would he 
find ■■■her? Her normal racial ap- 
pearance did not conform to Ter- 
ran standards. She was tall, wil- 
lowy, nearly albino, with pink-gray 
eyes, slightly slanted, and with rich 
red hair that swept upward in a 
natural tufted appearance. But hair 
and skin could be dyed. And over a 
period' of se¥eral weeks she could 



59, 



60 

control her circulatory and glandu- 
lar systems in such a way that fatty 
deposits would appear where she 
desired tlieiii and disappear in 
other places so that she could 
change her features and her form, 
at will,, as he himself had done. 

Of one thing he was certain : Her 
paranoid pride wou,ld not permit 
her to assume a guise regardecl as 
ugly by this world. Most certainly 
slie would make herself strikingly 
beautiful. 

San Rorrek however had reduced 
Ms body-weight, padded his cheek- 
bones to give himself a gaunt ap- 
pearance, dyed his hair black and 
iiis skin a s,allow shade. An irritant, 
rubbed into pinpricks on, Hs face, 
resBlted in mild acne that made 
him something less thaa handsome. 
He smeared his teeth with 
brown stain, wore shabby scc- 
ond-haHd clothing, and a pair of 
plain-rimmed glasses. He was not 
here to attract attention; he 
was here to kill. He looked like a 
peddler or a laborer out of a Job. 

He was walking down a side- 
street at midnight when he caught 
the fi»t faint aura of her presence. 
She was somewhere within a few 
bloeks, and she was planting a sug- 
gestion in the mind of the Terran 
who would not recognize the .loiifce 
of the thoughts as stemming from 
outside ills own consciousness. 

Sweee-wfum! That dame on the 
corner! DM shg look at me? Think 
I'll walk that way. 

This was it! San had not reached 
out to touch the Terran's mind, for 
in doing so lie would broadcast his 
own thought-aura and reveal liis 
presence to Klia. He had merely 



WALTER MILLER, JR. 

listened to Klla's planting of the 
thought in the Terran's mind, and 
he, caught the general direction 
from' whence it came. He began 
walking rapidly up the street, then 
cut through the blackness of an 
alley. 

Was she playing games, or had 
she chosen a Terran to be of some 
service to her? Perhaps she was 
bored, and only wanted a brief 
love-affair. 



AT THE END of the alley, he 
paused to peer toward both 
intersections. There • were a lew 
people on the sidewalk, but no 
woman tall enough to be Klia. He 
jaywalked and darted down the 
next alleyway. If the Terran had 
responded immediately to lier sug- 
gcition, they would peihaps be 
gone before he could reach them. 

But then lie caught another brief 
flash of thought-^f-not words, but 
an image. She was helping tlie Ter- 
ran imagine what .she might look 
like witliout cloiiing. San chuckled 
as he trotted ahead. UHknowingly, 
she had given huii a clue as to her 
appearance. Through glandular 
control, she had, apparently paddeti 
herself to a remarkable eonditioii 
of mammalian grandiloquence. 
The effect was almost surrealistic; 
the m'ay a male might design a 
female if he had any choice in the 
matter. 

"You liked that, eh?" snarlel a 

uiet voice from the darkness of a 



,oorway. 

He stepped abruptly • in mid- 
alley, caught in a puddle of moon- 
light. She had tricked him. There 



BITTER VICTORY 

had been no Terran. The phoney 
suggeition had been a trap. He 
glanced quickly around. 

"Don't move," she snapped. 
"IVe got a native gun on- you — a 
projectile weapon, in case you 
aren't familiar with their artifacts." 

He stood in stony silence, staring 
at the dodtway until he made out 
lier faint shadow. There was a tiny 
¥enom-giiri strapped to liis wrist, 
but its action ^wouM not be immedi- 
ate, and if he used it, she \¥ould 
have ample time to kill him before 
she^ died. If it came to that he 
would use it, but now he hesitated, 
trying to piece together her im- 
mediate intentions. 

He shrugged and grinned. 
"Okay. So' I lost. Shoot and get it 
over with." 

"Not here. They'd run an autop- 
sy on yoTj, pastoral. They'd figure 
you weren't quite Terran." 

"I'm no pastoral. Fin an inven- 
tive." 

"It's all the same to ine, Rorrek. 
You're 3 lousy Tliirder. Now 
move! Stay in the moonlight and 
walk slow. Stop when you come to 
the street. Fll be riglit behind you." 

"Where are we going?" 

"Shut up! And don't .start mak- 
ing suggestions at a poHceinaii, or 
I'll kill you." 

Rorrek started walking. He felt 
Iter thoughts scanning lightly 
tlirougli various regions of con- 
sciousness-patterns until she found 
a taxi-cltiver. Then: I gotta hunch 
there's a customer on the next 
street. Think FU turn right. 

The taxi was approacliing the 
alley entrance as they emerged., 
"Flag it," she ordered. Rorrek 



obeyed grim-lipped. 

"You, get in first, darling," she 
said in a pleasant tone. "I like to 
sit on tile right" 

"That's just because rm right 
handed, dear," lie purred acidly. 

"Where to, sir?" 

Out of the city, the girl ordered 
Rorrek wordlessly. Tell him, 

"Ask her. She's boss." 

The gun jabbed Hm ruthlessly 
in the ribs. The driver grinned. 

"Where to, lady?" 

She hesitated. "A long trip?" 

"How long?" 

"Oh, thirty, forty miles. North." 

"It'll cost you." 

"That's all right. Will twenty 
dollars do it?" 

"Maybe. Watch the meter and 
double it. You'll have to pay 
both ways." 

"Let's go." 

Rorrek glanced at her sourly as 
they moved tlirougii the traffic. ■ 
She had been exaggerating only 
slightly with the mental image, u.sed 
to trap him. The platinum blonde 
hair, the gray eyes, the aristocratic 
features, the full, slightly cynical 
mouth' — she conformed perfectlj' to 
the beauty standard.? of this world. 
The black dress revealed things 
that would have won her first place 
in any of the inane native female 
contests. 

"You've done well by yourself, I 
see," he .said, eyeing the expensive 
clothing and jewelry. 

What telepath couldn't? And 
stop talking aloud. 

He watched her for a moment. 
The -gun was in her handbag. So 
was tier haad. And she was keeping 
a sharp eye on him. Rorrek 



62 

frowned. No opening yet. 

Where are we going? 

Someplace where you can dig a 
hole without being seen. / 

Rorrek stared ahead at the traf- 
fic for a moment. He didn't need 
to ask her what the hole was for. 



THE DRIVER was approach- 
ing an intersection and the 
light was just changing from green 
to red. Having heard Ae girl sum- 
mon the taxi, Rorrek knew^ the 
man's consciousness pattern. He 
adjusted to it 'quickly and planted 
a rapid suggestion: Damn ^ the 
light! I can make it! 

The girl cursed and lifted the 
handbag. The light was already 
red. A car shot out from the other 
street. The brakes screamed. A po- 
lice-whistle shrilled angrily. 

"Shoot," Rorrek dared, smirk- 
ing at Klia. 

The handbag hesitated. "Make a 
wrong move and I'll have to." 

The driver was too busy with 
his own troubles to hear them. The 
cop came stalking across the pave- 
ment, "You like to live dangerous- 
ly, huh?" he said in a bored voice. 

The cabby began a plaintive ex- 
planation. 

"Come on, dear." said Klia. 
"We'll catch another cab." 

"I like this one." , 

Get out, or I'll kill you and the 
cop too. Pay the driver. 

Rorrek handed the driver a dol- 
lar. They crossed to the .sidewalk 
and the girl looked shaken. This 
w,as a busier street and there were 
more pedestrians. He grinned at 
her again.. 



WALTER MILLER, JR. 

"May I buy you a drink before 
.you finish me off?" 

Surprisingly, she replied, "I'll let 
you live that long, pastoral. It's in- 
teresting to watch you try to wig- 
gle out of it." 

He knew she meant it. She coul.d ■ 
have hypnotized ^ the cop and the 
driver, shot him in the cab,, and 
strolled calmly away as one of a 
dozen mtiltiple mental images. She 
could still do it, but - evidently the 
idea of making him dig his own 
grave appealed to her icy sense of 
humor. 

They entered a small bar and 
she directed him toward a secluded 
booth. 'Tm surprised you -haven't 
used your wrist weapon yet," she 
said as they sipp'ed a martini. "Ap- 
parently you pastorals have no ca- 
pability for self-sacrifice." 

His face showed no surprise, but 
he rested his arm across the table. 
He smirked. "I was waiting for a 
better opportunity, but since you 
put it that way let's get it over 
with." His other hand darted to- 
ward the lethal wrist. 

"One moment," she said. 

He paused. 

"Do you have an extra projec- 
tile?" 

He frowned, then nodded. 

She smiled again, and laid a 
braceleted white arm across the' 
table, "I'll sive you the trouble of 
firing. Prick me with it." 

His throat started with surprise. 
"You're not immune,'* he hissed. 

"To Ayoyo venom? Try me." 

Rorrek gained new admiration 
for her. The process of immuniza- 
tion was an excruciatingly painful 
treatment covering three years and 



BITTER VICTORY ^ 

usually it shortened the lifespan 
considerably. This could ^niean but 
one thing. 

"You've been ^plotting this for a 
long time then?" 

Her eyes narrowed and she 
■leaned forward. "Correct, pastoral. 
Ever since you excluded' us from 
your society and sent us to an iron- 
less planet." 

"I'm not a pastoral/' he pro- 
tested- "Tm an inventive." 

"An artificial category. An iii- 
¥entive is a maladjusted pastoral 
who wishes he were' a Klidd." 

Her use of the ancient feudal 
name for her race startled him. His 
people had almost forgotten it. ■ 
Once on Nil Phoenicis IV there 
had been the Klidds, or barons, the 
Algim, or serfs, and the Taknoii, 
or artisans. The feudal system had 
lasted more than five thousand 
years, and because of natural selec- 
tion operating within the occupa- 
tional groups, the three classes had 
become ^ genetically distinct. After 
the rise of a technology, the Klidds 
were overthrown and exiled to the 
ironless fourth planet where they 
formed their own ruthless social 
order under a strict space quaran- 
tine, enforced by the Taknon space- 
force which Rorrek served. 

"I'll stop arguing heredity with 
you, Klia," he said. "Finish your 
drink and let's go." 
^ 'Til call the signals." _ ^ 

"I love your Terran idiom," he 
grunted, "and your company is 
charming. But get 'your- business 
over with." 
' "You're anxious to die?" 

He shrugged indifFereiitlf. 
"Someone else will come and kill 



63 

you, ' if I don't do the job. They 
know you're here now." 

A smile. "You underestimate 
these people, Rorrek." She waved 
a casual hand toward the rest of 
the room. "Before another yokel 
like you can find me, I'll have these 
primitives building a five-space 
drive and proving that Nu Phoe- 
nicis has habitable planets. Then 
let's see you stop us." 

He . nodded thoughtfully. "So 
that's the picture. You get Terra ■ 
to send ships to your world, ex- 
pecting no human life there. The 
ships come baek to Terra full of 
your people, ready to take over. 
Then you get your hands on Ter- 
ran iron a,nd steel to use in attack- 
ing my people." 

"In general, yes." Her gray eyes 
were icy calm, and she hated Mrri 
with a fierceness that he could feel 
— -hated him as a symbol of the 
race who had exiled her people. 

"You're pathetic," he said 
quietly, 

" She flushed, then her face went . 
hard. .He bored in. 

'T have • alvv^ays felt' intensely 
sorry for your asinine emotion pat- 
terns." 

No Klidd could endure that. She 
turned white and hissed a curse in 
her native tongue. He locked a 
probe in her consciousness, and 
when , she squeezed the trigger of 
her gun, he was on his feet heav- 
ing the table into her lap. It 
crashed' down as the gun expJo'dcd. 
The bullet tore his calf. He lashed 
out with 'a heavy fist, hard to ' her 
temple, and hoping it was hrutal 
enough to kill her. She sagged and 
toppled to the floor. ' - ' 



64 

THE LOUNGE was in an up- 
roar, the people cringing to- 
ward the %¥alls. A policc-wliistic 
made an ear- shocking screech, as 
the traffic cop from the corner 
came lunibering in to investigate. 

"Don't anyone move!" he bcl-. 
lowed, and charged across the 
room toward Rorrek, who was 
about to kick Klia's temple to in- 
sure her death. His foot froze and 
settled to the floor. 

"Call an ambulance," the cop 
bawled at the manager. "Every- ^ 
body stay bact!" 

Rorrek began, "It was purely 

"Don't say anything. Just stand 
there and keep your hands, in 
sight." 

Rorrek kept Ms hands in sight. 
He stared at the cop, suggesting 
nausea, suggesting a fluttering of 
the heart, suggesting asphyxiation. 
The cop began ' to gasp and reel, 
Rorrek increased the mental dos- 
age. The cop choked and fainted. 

As Rorrek walked calmly out 
into the night, he heard voices be- 
hind him telling that the girl was 
dead. He left sick himself now. 
There was something compelling 
about KHa, something that at- 
tracted. He felt a little like a child, 
drawn tcjward a cruel mother — or 
a husband, lured to a wantonly 
selfish and unfaithful" mistres,?. He 
knew she had to be killed, yet now 
that it was done, he felt rotten, 
inside. 

At last he fouod a doctor and 
had his flesh-wound dressed. He 
stared at the doctor peculiarly and 
the medic seemed to forget it had 
been a bullet m'ouiid. Rorrek went 



■ ' ■ WALTER MILLER, JR. 

home to Ms apartment, packed his , 
telongings and called a cab. 

An hour later he was aboard a 
flight for San Francisco. There was 
no returning to his home planet 
for he had ditched tlie ship at sea 
lest it be found by Teri-ans.- Such 
were the quarantine regulations. 
He felt certain that Klia had done 
the sanie with her stolen Hydrian 
ship for another reason : Lest^ it be 
found by a commission agent such 
as himself. Also, her plan for lead- 
ing Terrans spaceward, luring 
therri to Phocrucis IV, and taking 
their ships, required that they con- 
tinue ■ ill their naive belief that 
Terra possessed the only human 
life in the galaxy. 

So he was stuck here for life un- 
less a Taknon ship came to pick 
him up, and there had been no 
guarantee of that from the Com- 
mission. Secret landings on noii- 
spacegoing planets were forbidden 
except ill several specifically de- 
fined emergencies. Rescuing a sec- 
ond-class agent was not one of 
them. , 

He was faced mdth a life of ease 
but of loneline&s. A telepath would 
have no difficulty acquiring tre- 
mendou.s wealth here, but a tele- 
path would have no compaBy — un- 
less he could find a few nati¥e.s 
who.se neural associative circuits 
were so ordered as to make telepa- 
thy latently po.ssible. Occasionally 
he had encountered a Terraii 
whose thought-aura was vaguely 
perceptible. Perhaps, through long 
and patient hypnotic conditioning, 
their latent abilities could be 
"brought forth. If the genetic hodge- 
podge could be straightened out. 



BITTER VICTORY 

Terran had high possibilities. Their " 
basic genetic emotion-patterns were 
not as sharply diFided into groups 
aS those of Nu Phoenicis, but the 
patterns were present,- and the con- 
flict among them was present. 
Rather than calling them Pastorals, 
Inventives, and Imperials, as in the 
Phoenician case, he decided per- 
haps that the basic Terran-patterns 
could best be described by the goals 
they were inclined to fa¥or. The 
"Security-Seekers", the "Knowl- 
edge-Seekers", and the "Glory- 
Seekers" perhaps. 

Phoenician code forbade any 
tampering with non-threat cuhural 
forms, but who was there to enforce 
it? And in a .sensej this was his 
planet now. Marooned here, he 
could participate in a subtle -'way, 
and help a lew local iriventives ind 
nem' directions. Maybe he owed 
them that mucli-for HDing Klia, 
who would, certainly have steered 
them spaceward, although the end 
result would have been disastrous 
for them, had her plan worked. 



THE FIRST WEEK in San 
Francisco, he spent replenish- 
ing his funds through poker games, 
wrestling matches, and various 
forms of betting in which thought- 
projective powers were a distinct 
advantage. Then he rented a house 
in the suburbs, ordered half a ton, 
of various electronic parts, and be- 
gan building several computer units 
while he concentrated on revising 
his physical appearance to a more 
pleasing form. 

As the weeks paised, he put on 
weight, removed the fatty tissue 



6,5 

from his cheekbones, tHckened his 
cheeks enough to remove the 
gauntness, and restored his com- 
plexion to a healtliier hue. When 
he was finished, he had the appear- 
ance of a gregarious young busi- 
nessman, cleanly attractive tut not 
offensively handsome. 

He finished the computer shortly 
after he finished him .self. It was 
not a large unit as computers went. 
It was built into a chassis the size 
of an eight-foot refrigerator. A Ter- 
ran might say it was constructed 
to handle problems in that rarefied 
strata of mathematics known as the 
Von Neumann theory of games. 
But the twenty-four instruments on 
its face were calibrated in "pomts 
per share". 

,Rorrek spent a month in li- 
braries, photographing stock-mar- 
ket reports covering a thirty-year 
period. These he laboriously 
studied, plottin,g the rise and fall of 
each stock on graphs, writing em- 
pirical equations to describe taeh 
graph, and feeding the equations to 
the computer's riiemory tanks. Fed 
also into the tanks, were thirty-year 
record-equations , describing tax- 
rates, population growth, national 
inconie, government expenditures, 
world armaments, exports, imports, 
and average individual incomes. 
The computer, required to assume 
that all the variables were depend- 
ent upon one another, evolved an 
implicit function in some thirty- 
seven variable quantities. 

He then fed it the "present corp 
ditioiiis" and required it to extrapo- 
late the ¥alues forward over a 
period of two month,.?. Eleven 
stocks appeared due. for sharp rises 



66 

within the period. San Rorrek in- 
vested ten thousand dollars, At the 
end of two months, the stocks had 
risen fifteen thousand. He cor- 
rected the small eiTors in the com- 
puter's estimates by supplying new 
data, then extrapolated again, sell- 
ing and reinvesting in accordance 
with the new predictions. There 
was dangtr, of course, that a com- 
pletely , unjjredictable scries of 
events might occur to cause unfa- 
vorable market fluctuations. There- 
fore he very carefully watched 
world conditions, political develop- 
ments, -and technical advance- 
ments. 

Klia's articles were still appear- 
ing in magazines and technical 
journals, but that was not surpris- 
ing, considering the usual lag be- 
tween the acceptance of an essay 
arid its publication. And the pieces 
were having subtle repercussions in 
the news, attracting no attention in 
themselves, tat spurring certain 
scientists to think along new lines. 
Klia had suggested a -method for 
testing basic mental formative pat- 
terns in infancy ; and now a western 
university's psychology department' 
was setting up a research lab "for 
studying the basic affective reac- 
tion patterns of infants at birth". 

Klia, under another pen-name, 
had suggested an extension of rela- 
tivistic mechanics t0 cover hypo- 
thetical N-dimensional universes, 
The newspapers announced now 
that the famous mathematician, 
Laiwich, was beginning work on 
the creation of a mathematical 
physics with no basic assumptions 
other than those of elementary 
arithmetic. "Man's only insight into 



WALTER MILLER, JR. 

reality," said Larwich, "derives 
from his ability to count on his fin- 
gers. "All else is purely experiential 
approximation , " 

•Rorrek grinned. Klia had been 
trying to .steer Terran inventors 
straight toward a five-space inter- 
stellar drive, while the- government 
m'as still spending billions on rocket 
research in the hope of reaching the 
moon. She was trying to get the 
mathematicians to see the velocity 
of light ' as a constant only at .one 
specific universe-level of five-space, 
and as a difFereat constant at other 
levels. And she had m,anagccl to 
steer Larwich in the right direction. 

Only one thing was lacking: an 
experiential tie between observable 
reality and the theory Larwich 
would certainly develop. Without' 
it, the theory would remain merely 
abtru.se inathcmatical speculation 
of ai) invariantive nature. Rorrek's 
fingers itched at the typewriter, 
longing to supply the missing sug- 
gestion. A guilt-reactioB, he told 
himself, probably associated with 
Klia's death. 

Nevertheless he wrote an essay 
entitled "Origin 'of Interstellar 
Hydrogen", and sent it to a univer- 
sity pres periodical. The article 
suggested that tlie spontaneous ap- 
pearance of matter in the four- 
space cosmos could be explained, in 
terms of a five-space coiitimiiim 
with a circulation of matter along 
the fifth component. 

''the essaV was rejected with a 
brief note from the editor: "Sorry, 
but we just hist week purchased an 
essay dealing with the mechanics of 
this 'continuous creation' notion. 
Your style is good. Try us a.gaiia. 



BITTER VICTORY 

.soon. Editor." 

Rorrek snorted and chucked the 
essay in the wastebasket. Some lo- 
cal yokel had probably beat him to 
the draw with some weirdly em- 
pirical notion that left out the tie 
with five-space. 

The rejection irritated Mm. He 
decided to give it up for a while, 
aad concentrate on making himself 
a millionaire. Then he learned ,that 
Dr. Larwich was in San Francisco 
for the summer. After some debate 
about the desirability of direct in- 
tervention, he found the professor's 
address— a modest cottage over- 
looking the bay with a short stretch 
of narrow beach before it. 



MORREK RENTED a cottage 
half a mile away. Three days 
later he wandered* past the pro- 
fessor's cottage, having spied three 
brown todies siinbatliing on the 
beach before it. As he drew nearer, 
he studied them curiously. An eld- 
erly couple and a girl in her late 
twenties, pos.sibly Larwich's daugh- 
ter. She was watching him casually 
— a large, dark girl with hazel eyes 
and firin breasts. 

Rorrek approached -the group. 
"Am I still on a public beacH?" he 
asked, "Or am I a trespasser?" 

The elderly couple glanced up 
questionlngly. The girl smiled. 
"Trespassers are welcome. Help 
yourself." She had a nice rniisical 
voice. 

"I've got tile next cottage down 
the line," he said. "But I scarcely 
realized I had neighbors." 

"It is lonely out here. Won't you 
sit with us awhile? You look tired." 



67 

Rorrek grinned and patted a 
slight bulge in his mid-section. 
"Trying to work off my bay win- 
dow." He strolled toward them, 
scraping his feet in the sand. 

The old man looked down at hi.? 
own, sagging belly, then glowered 
at the .stranger. "Young man, you 
have just committed a grievous 
faux pas" he grunted. 

"I'm Edith Larwich," said the 
girl. "This is my father, Frank Lar- 
wich . . . and my mother, Louise." 

He nodded and ."sat down. "I'xb 
Sam Rory." He hesitated, looHng 
at the professor and gathering a 
frown. "Larwich — Frank Larwich 
—I've heard of you, I think, lis it 
Doctor Larwich — of the new-look 
in invariantive vie^vpoints?" 

The old man looked siirpri.«d. 
He Hfted his eyebrows first at his 
wife, then Ms daughter. He ex- 
tended his liarid to Rorrek and 
looked a beam of 'amu.sement down 
his slender no.se. "Young man, you 
ha¥e just absolved yourself of that 
faux pas. What school are you 
with?" 

"No school." 

"What research lab, then?" 

"No lab, Fill a gambler." 

"Bah! Stop joking. Laymen 
doa't talk about invariance, or re- 
member the names of old codgers 
like me." 

He shrugged. "I apologize for be- 
ing a layman, sir, but I like mathe- 
matics. Ih-e read a few 'of your 
pieces in the digest." 

Larwich glanced at his wife and 
daughter again. They were looking 
curiously at Rorrek. 

■"My fame comes as a distinct 
shock to me," the old man said 



68 

with a slight smile. 

"Have a cup of iced tea," said 
Edith, pouring from a thermos. 

He thanked her and managed to 
pull his eyes away from her body. 
Terran standards of beauty were 
beginning to appeal to him. 

"Wiien do you expect to publish 
your new theory, Doctor?" lie 
asked casually. 

"Make it 'Frank'," grunted the 
oldster. "And I expect to publish 
it within a few months. It's coining 
along much faster than I thought. 
In fact, it scares me sometimes." 

Rorrek fell briefly thoughtful. 
Any man would could work that 
theory out in a few months was cer- 
tainly the mental equal of the best 
minds of his own race. It startled 
him. Here seemed proof efiough 
that Terran-humanity was^ going 
places, given a little intelligent bio- 
social reform. 

"That's remarkable," he iimr- 
iiiured,. "I thought it would be at 
least two years." 

"So did I. But Edith here helped 
me tremendoasly with certain 
down-to-earth suggestions. It may 
seem unbelievable to you, but I 
think this thing is going to have 
some practical applications, and 
apply to certain observable phe- 
n,oinena." 

Rorrek looked sharply at the girl. 
She was smiling at him. faintly with 
the cool green eyes. The old man 
laughed. 

• "Edith forgot to ineotion — it's 
Edith Larwich, Ph.D. in physics. 
She instaatly spotted some possible 
correlations between my theory and 
some of the modem cosmologies." 

Rorrek was still staring at her. 



WALTER MILLER, JR. 

"Such as the mechanics of spon- 
taneous creation of matter?" he 
asked quietly. 

The girl nodded, and smiled 
amusement at her father who ap- 
peared taken aback. "If Sam Rory 
is really a gambler, let's not invite 
him to any poker games." She 
giiniied at the visitor again, "Thi.?, 
is remarkable. We'll have to get 
better acquainted." 

He murmured pleasantly, but 
felt a vague uneasiness. He had 
come to plant a hint of the cor- 
relation in the mathematician's 
mind, but now there was no need 
to do so. When Larwich was 
through, physicists could build an 
experimental five-space generator 
on the ba.sis of \m. theoiy. When 
the physicists were through making 
data-tables, engineers would be 
able to constrfct a working model 
interstellv drive, provided some- 
one would make the investment. 
Rorrek, busy making a fortune in 
the stock-market, musingly saw 
himself as angel for the first ship. 

Edith stood up, tugging at her 
suit to cover a streak of white liip. 
She smiled down at him. "Think 
I'll swim. Care to join me?" 

"Leaife •liim here for a while, 
will you?" grunted Larwich. 

Rorrek nodded at, the girl. 'Til 
meet you in the water." 

She trotted toward the surf, 
lithe, brown, and lovely in the sun. 

"Your daughter is very beauti- 
ful, sir," Rorrek mumiiired. 

"Eh? Oh, thank fou. I find my- 
self marvelling about her change so 
much that I scarcely notice her 
prettiness." 

"Change?" 



BITTER VICTORY 

"In personality. You see, she was 
nearly blind imtil a few months 
ago. Cataracts. And she was always 
so retiring, quiet and introspective. 
It's remarkable what the re- 
moval of a physical defect can do 
for a girl's per.sonalitf. You 
wouldn't call her shy and retiring 
now, womM yon?" 

"Not at all. Quite friendly, I'd 
say." 

Rorrek watched ha plunging 
gracefully in the surf, aiid he won- 
dered at bis vague uneasiness. 
' "m^hat do you really do, Sam?" 
Larwicli a.4ed. 

"Investor. I hit it lucky on the 
market. Gambler— same thing.'* 
^ Lan*icli cimckled. "You evi- 
dently read technical publications 
as a hobby, then. Or are you work- 
ing on a mathematical way to beat 
the stock market?" 

Rorrek smiled enigmatically, aad 
got to his feet. "You might try the 
Von Neumann theory of games " he 
offered, then smiled sheepishly. "If 
you'll excuse me, I think I'll joiii' 
yoar daughter for a swim." . 



SHE WAS far out beyond the 
feeble breakers whcB he trotted 
througli the shallow watei's but she 
rolled on her back to wave ' and 
watch Iiim. A very beautiful, in- 
telligent girl, he thought calculat- 
ingly. If he were to remain ma- 
rooned on Terra, it would 'be 
iatere-sting to see if normal procrea- 
tion, could, result from' marriage 
with a native. He ielt an urge to 
toucli the girl's Blind, then decided 
against it for the present. Some 
Terrans seemed serssltively recep- 



69 _ 

ti¥e, and they Ijecarne startled by 
undue power. 

She lay treacling water until he 
swam up beside her, then site 
smiled but lier eyes were thought- 
ful. 

"Water's nice!" lie grnBted. 

"Is it?" 

He frowned. "Why the clialleiig- 
ing tone?" 

"Who are you, anyway?" 

"JuS v/lio I said I was. Sani 
Rory, gambler, investor." 

She said nothing more about it, 

but her eyes were suspicious. They 

swam in silence for a time, then 

^ she called, "How's the beach down 

" at your place?" 

He hesitated. Was she aagling? 

"Just iiie," he said. "Why don't 
you come down?" 

She lifted her wet head from the 
tide and aedded soberly. "I will. 
Very 'soon." 

Again he felt the vague uneasi- 
ness. 

Rorrek spent the afternoon on 
his porch, watching the bay. To- 
morrow lie meant to go back to 
the suburbs, return to the task of 
■making himself the wpjiltliiest man 
in the cdmitry a.s quickly as pos- 
sible, then start efldowing uniYCi- 
sities with research grams like a fat 
old capitalist with a guilty con- 
science. 

Twiliglit came, and he felt the 
loneliness of an alieo' longing for 
home. He visualized the warm, roll- 
ing lulls of Phoenicis III, dotted 
with, pastoral Algiin villages, and 
tlie great m'alled city-states of the 
Talcnon, covering hundreds of 
square miles and set in tiie midst 
of the AlguB landscape. They 



70 

worked in harmony, the two races 
— each maintaining its own go'vern- 
meiit, each keeping itself socially 
and biologically separated, yet each 
realizing that one could not exist 
and prosper without the other. It 
was a class society that worked, 
worked because the classes were di- 
vided according to the goals they 
sought, not according to any arti- 
icial framework. Of course, Man's 
goals were diosea in the light of 
his eoiotioiis and aptitudes, and at 
least among the Phoenicians, emo- 
tion and aptitude patterns were 
foanded on genetic bed-rock. It 
was only rarely that TaknoH apti- 
tudes were bom in an Algiin vil- 
lage, and equally rare when a pas- 
torally 'inclined child appeared in 
tlie Talnon cities. 

Lon€Jiness weighed heavily on 
him. With some misgivings he 
closed his eyes, and searched 
through the transor regions for the 
Larwich girl's pattern of conscious- 
ness. When he passed through it, 

he started up with a low gasp — 

and lost the pattern. There had 
been a knife-edge sharpness about 
it — a clarity of focus that suggested 
resonant neural circuits as in the 
trained telepath. He groped for it 
again. 

But when he found it, the sharp- 
ness was gone — if it had really 
been there. The transor was strong 
but blurred, unreadable. He de- 
cided his first impression had been 
illusion. 

I wonder what that young man 
is doing? he suggested. He did in- 
vite m.e to his beach. Maybe if I 
walked down that way. 

He paused a moment, trying to 



WALTER MILLER, JR. 

catch the blurred images that swam 
in leiijure tlirough her conscious- 
ness. But they were too muddled. 
He withdrew from her and waited. 
Half-a-mile might be too far for 
the iiiitrainecl mind to catch the 
faint suggestion, and even though 
she wc3uld mistake the thoughts for 
her own, she might offer her.«lf 
some counter-excuse for not com- 
ing. 



' E WATCHirj the cottage in 
the failing gray of twilight. 
Aft*.! a few minutes, the screen 
duui opened, and someone stood on 
the porch. Then she trotted down 
the steps to the beach and came 
walking Ms way, but_ looking to- 
ward the sea. As she drew nearer,' 
he saw that she was wearing white 
sliorts and a pale blue blouse with 
the tail knotted about her^ waist. 
The wind whipped the blouse 
again-st her breasts and ruffled her 
short dark hair like a nest of feath- 
ers. He watched her eoine toward 
him with iiarro%¥ speculative eyes, 
and he wondered again: Was a 
procreati¥e union possible here? 

She loolced toward him and 
waved, breaking his reverie, then 
on apparently sudden impulse 
turned and plodded through the 
sand toward his porch. 

"Am I trespa.ssing? Or did you. 
invite me to your beach?" 

"Come on up," he called. "I was 
just wishing you'd drop by." 

She hooked her foot on the step 
and cocked her head at Hrii. 
"Why?" 

It startled him. "The an.swer to 
that," he chuckled, "might be 



BITTER VICTORY 

found in textbooks of psychology 
and biology, particularly the latter. 
Come up and sit clown." 

"Not if you're going to be, bio- 
logical." _ 

"Only introspectiYcly so. I have 
insufficient data on the subject to 
feel safe in rash experijiients." 

She laughed ai|d came up to take 
a chair, propping her long, trim 
legs on the rail. "The subject is a 
carnivore wliO' might chew off an 
ear." 

"Mrnmp! How about a nice 
tliicli steak with onions and french 
fries ■and a gallon' of beer?" 

"Tile Moated subject would fall 
asleep in lier cage."' 

"Exactly." 

She watched hini with cool 
amusement In the dusk. "I think 
we find each otlier attractive." 

"Fin glad it's mutual, I ha¥e 
plans for you." 

She dropped her legs, rested her 
elbows on her knees, and swung 
half around to grin peculiarly, head 
cocked up at him. "Okay, Sara. 
Finish tlie fimny storf." 

He leanecf toward iier and tried 
to steal as softly as possible into lier 
consciousness pattern, but he kept 
his voice light and casual. 

"The plan is simple biology, but 
it involves many ankiiown.? m yet. 
For instance — " 

He pulled her face toward him 
slowly, and inouMed her mouth 
witli liis. Quietly they slipped to 
tlteir feet, locked tightly together, 
laughing quietly with soft fire 
where their faces touched. He 
brought his mind slowly into full 
resonance with her pattern, de- 
manding her to respond. 



71 

The response was white flame, 
but not of the bcxiy. His mind 
reeled for an instant before he un- 
derstood. Full focus! Too bright! 
And sometliing liard against iiis 
ribs. 

Foil should ham been born a 
KBdd! 

He backed away, staring at lier, 
aad tile glint of metal in her hand. 

I wasn't certain, she went on un- 
til you threw that full resonmnce at 
me. 

"Klia!" 

"Yes." Slie found a cigaret with 
her left hand and lit it wltile she 
held tlie gun on Iiioi with her 
right. He could see her face in the 
matcli-flare, and it appeared tight 
and drawn. 

"Your lipstick is smeared," lie 
offered. 

"Thanks. It was a pleasure. I'm 
really sorry I lia¥e to kill you." 
, ^'Like you killed Larwich's blind 
daughter and took her place?" 

Klia snorted. "She's not ' dead. 
She's still blindj and she's an am- 
nesiac in a Pennsylvania p.<iycho- 
patliic ward." 

"Hypnotically induced amnesia, 
liildoubtedly," 

"Right. I liad to get her persoii- 
allt? patterns, and leave lier a 
blank," 

"I thought I left you dead on 
the ioor." 

She siglied impatiently. "Would 
a Terraii Icnow wlien a Pliocnician 
was dead?" 

B-orrelc saw Ms blunder and' 
gritted his teeth. He'd been a fool 
to believe. Naturally, every time 
someone touclied her wrist to test 
her pulse, she Mac! simply stopped 



72 

her heartbeat until the fellow let 
go, or perhaps shut off the circula- 
tion in the arm, 

"Well, you've got Larwich well 
on the road to the theory of a space 
drive, I see," 

She nodded, started to reply, 
paused, then: "You didn't suspect 
me because you thought I was 
dead. Then why did you come 
prowling around Larwich?" 

"To do what you've already 
done" 

"You're lying." 

"See for yourself." He began 
sliding .into resoaance with her, but 
' she backed away warily and 
Hocked Mm out. 

"You can break it whenever you 
want to," he said. 

She risked it, and their transors 
foiiad sharp focus again. He reeled 
off the contents of Ms associative 
circuits relating to Larwich and his 
theory, reeled them off too rapidly 
for them to be inventions, of the 
moment. Then he switched to 
memories concerning Ms thoughts 
of her, 

, "Why did you do that?" she 
muttered when he was through. 
Her voice was shaky, and the gun 
seemed to be sagging in her hand. 

He shrugged. "We're a long way 
from Nu Phoenicis. I expect to be 
here for good." 

"You -will be," she said ominous- 
ly, straightening. "Start marching 
down to the water." 
"Why?" 

"The tide's going out. You'll go 
with it." 

"Suppose I suggest we work to- 
gether." 

She laughed scornfully. "Move, 



WALTER MILLER, JR. ' 

quickly, Taknon!" 

He walked slowly down the steps 
and into the faint moonlight. He 
moved ahead with a calm leisurely' 
tread. Behind him the girl laughed. 
"You're part Klidd, Rorrek. A 
hybrid — or a throwback." 
He failed to ask her why. 
"I could feel abaction for a Tat- 
non, but I couldn't love one. I've 
watched you. You're part KUdd. I 
can feel it," 

He wondered why his throat con- 
stricted. He said nothing, 

"I love you, Rorrek. Damn your 
hide." 

But she loved her planet more. 
"What are you going to do about 
Larwich now?" he asked coldly. 
"Are you going to switch to 
someone else, or are you going to 
keep on brazening it out?" 

"Switch. I'm through with him. 
He's on the right course." 

Rorrek started wading into shal- 
low water. 

"Go on out past the breakers," 
she called. "I don't want you to 
wash back in." 

"Glad to oblige/' he grunted, 
but he paused to look back. She 
had kicked off her sandals and was 
wading after him. 

She stopped, gun glinting In the 
moonlight. '"Well?" ' ' . 

"One thing." 

He scanned for her mind, but 
site blocked, refusing him reso- 
nance. He bludgeoned through un- 
til he made a strong but fuzzy con- 
tact. He held the contact, but 
turned away and began wading 
through the gentle rush of breakers 
while he wandered' through his as- 
sociative circtiits concerning her. 



BITTER VICTORY 

Stop it, Rorrek! ' - 

Then the resonance w^s com- 
plete, and he chuckled, because Ae 
was going to feel it when she shot 
him. Beyond the breakers, he 
turned again to fad her. She was 
reeling dizzily, holding the gun at 
arm's length, with her left hand 
pressed tight to her lace. 



HE WAS unprepared for the 
shots when they came, Tm'o 
went wide, but the third seared his 
chest, ■ and he went down, fighting 
for air. hearing a choking scream 
from K-lia. He gasped OBce and 
went under, swimmiBg weakly for 
deeper water. Another bullet 
streaked phosphorescence through 
the blackness about him. He drove 
still deeper, clinging precariously 
to consciousness. Another slug 
streaked under Mm anil he veered 
upward. Sf?ven cartridges m the 
gun, five gone. If he could only live 
a Httle longer. 

Then"" he had to rise for air. He 
spun around and came up slowly, 
facing sliore. She was walking de- 
jectedly back across the beach to- 
ward Ms cottage. He waited for her 
to look back. He dog-paddled with 
the waves, -but the tide seemed to 
be sweeping him out. 

"PrdTdv' Bladen, KUa!" he 
choked ih tlieir native tongue. "For 
the love of Meb!" 

She heard him. She turned slow- 
ly, watched him coldly for a mo- 
ment, pistol lifted high. 

"PraTdf Kliddn, Takmn!" 
came her icy paraphrase. 

The gun' barked, and barked 
again. Seven! But this time it was 



■ * 73 

Ms abdomen, and he heard himself . 
screaming as he fought toward 
shore. He could only partially con- 
trol the flow of blood to the 
wounds. When tissue cried for 
blood, the unconscious reflex let it 
go. It was like holding one's breath, 
and occasionally he had to Meed. 
, She was standing there watch- 
ing him, white in the moonlight, ' 
locked in a kind of trance. - - 

Co, he thought at her sa-vagely. 
When I get there, I'll kill fou—for 
those last two shdts. 

She looked at the guri in her 
hand. She let it drop, stared down 
at it, wiped the hand distastefully 
on her iiiorts. She backed away a 
.step, stumbled in the sand, and sat 
down, rolling her head on her 
knees. He groped for her mind, and 
she erected no block. She hoped he 
would die before he got to shore, 
but she wasn't going to move. 

Fate, about to be satisfied- — -it 
gave Mm angry strength. A breaker 
washed over him from behind,' and 
he rode with it briefly. When' it 
passed Mm by and dropped him, 
he stood chest-deep, wading shore- 
ward. He peered at her dazedly, 
hands clenching and unclenching 
in anticipation. He let her feel the 
strength of his hate, but her 
thoughts were wandering— her 
home, her people. But she saw them 
differently somehow, as if she were 
no longer capable of being guided 
by their ¥aliies. Her affective 
framework had collapsed. She sat 
in a bewildered daze. 

He .staggered from the water and' 
fell to his knees on the sand. He 
crawled toward her with .savage 
deliberation in 'the moonlight. 



74 

Run, Klia—I'm going to kill 
foti! 

She looked up slowly, watched 
Mm crawling tom'ard her. Then she 
pulled herself up and went to meet 
Hm. Snarling, he lurched for her. 

"Let me get you to a doctor," 
she said. 

He laughed, groped for her. She 
slipped her shoulders under Ms arm 
to support him. His fist ■ cracked 
savagely. Something brittle shat- 
tered. She screamed and pawed at 
her face. He hit her again and 
again, r&Uing across the sand, bat- 
tering lier face until Ms f sts were 
driving into wet pulp. 

"My eyes! My eyes!" 

Weakly he crouched over her, 
staring. She had been wearing con- 
tact lenses. The green irises had 
been stained on the glass to cover 
her gray ones. Now jagged slivers 
of glass protruded from under her 
eyelids. She rolled her head and 
moaned, trying to escape him. 

Flashlights were coming down 
the beach, and Doc Larwich was 
shouting frantically. Rorrek backed 
away from the girl, She came to her 
feet and began running blindly, 
staggering toward a .sand embank- 
ment. 

"Rorrek!" The cry was plaintive. 

He moved drunkenly after her, 
groping for resonance, steering her 
toward the pathway around the 
cottage. Hi.s car loomed on tlie 
driveway. He guided her into it, 
followed her. 

The girl drove, watching the' 
road through Ms eyes. 

You're finished^ Ktiai 

There was only wildness aad 
fright in her racing niind. My efes. 



WALTER MILLER, JR. 

my eyes, my eyes . , , 

He let her alone, clnging pre- 
cariously to consciousness and fight- 
ing iBtemal hemorrhage. The 
glaring Hghts on the road dazed 
hiiiij and the car weayed crazily as 
she used his dimming vision to 
guide her. 

He kB,ew he had won. He had 
stopped her, for as in evei-y para- 
noiac culture, loss of function or 
deformity was cause for shame 
and ridicule among the KHdd. A 
blinded KHdd, like a Kwakiutl 
tribesman or Zulu warrior, was dis- 
graced and ashamed. The only re- 
course was death. 

Why didn't , she accept it then? 
He was waiting for her to ram the 
car into a truck or bridgi, but she ^ 
drove as straight as his failing sight 
would allow. 



A SIGN on the road said, "Rob- 
ert Honkler, Physician and 
Surgeon." He .stared at the white 
house, and the girl pulled to the 
curb. 

"Get out!" she ordered, but left 
the engine running and stayed bc-f 
hind the' ■wheel. 

So that was it. She brought him, 
here, and now, blinded, she wks 
going to plunge on. 

"Why?" he gasped. "Why— help ' 

"PraTdi/ Bladen, Rorrek!" she 
snapped with a sarcastic viciousness 
that masked her heart. " — for love 
of Man!" 

He. jerked the key from the igni- 
tion and fell across her to hold her 
in the car. His elbow pressed 
against the horn and held it down. 



BITTER VICTORY 

"Let me go!" 

We'll work together, KUa. Ws'tt 
get these' people into space, and 
somehow well help your people. 

She laughed bitterly. Help them? 
Yop never gave them a chance! 
when the feudal order collapsed, 
the Taknon and the Algun adapted 
themselves to technohgy. Bui you 
banished the Klidd without kiting 
them find a plm^e in the new socieiy. 
You hated them tm much m your 
former tyrants. 

"A place? What place coiild a 
Klidd—" 

Admmistrators, coordinaton, or- 
gaMizers. But you exiled us to a 
world without iron, eondemmi us 
to an eternal stone age. There is but 
mie fnndamintal right of Mtn, 
Taknon! The right to try. You ie- 
nied it to us. 

Footsteps w6re coming down the 
walk, and gentle hands vrcrc drag- 
ging them out of the car. Game 
blackness. 

When he awoke, he expected to 
see iron bars, or tiie walls of a hos- 
pital room. Instead, he was in his 
own home in the suburbs. He tried 
to move, and groaned. Soniething 
rustled in the room, 

"Lie still/' she said. 

He rolled Ms head weakly to look 
at' her. She sat stiffly in a, straight- 



75 

backed chair by the window, ciorn- 
ing sunlifht playiag in her hair. 
There was a bandage ' across her 
eyes. He groped for her mind, and 
found the answer. She had helped 
the doctor forget that he had ever 
seen three bullet-wounds and a pair 
of ruined eyes. 

"As soon as yiju're able to get B.p, 
111 go," she said coldly. 

"No. You'H stay. We'll build 
ships. We'll get your pople to a 
ferrous planet somehow— an iinia- ^ 
habited one. If they can build a 
civilization from scratch, they de- 
serve it." 

She stood up and faced the win- 
dow for a time, soaking in the warm 
sunlight, and he allowed her the 
privacy of her tlionghts. 

The right to tff—eoen for a race 
of power-grabbgrs, 

PraTalv' Bhden. For the love of 
Man. 

"My eyes,* she said dully. "He 
.said there's riot much chance." 

"There is a chaace?" 

She shrugged. 

"We still have one pair." And 
.he showed her herself through 
them; showed her herself with 
ever-iBcreasing daring until she 
blushed crimson. 

But her hands reached otit to 
Mm. 



THE END ■ 




When Bleck Ef€S needei a nap— everybody slepit 



BLACK EYES oncJ f^ie 

DAILY GRIND 



By ^ MILTON LESSER 

The little house pet from Venus didn't like 
New York, so New York had to change. 



HE LIKED the iat cracking 
sound of the gun. He liked the 
way it slapped back against his 
shoulder when he fired. Somehow 
it did not seem a part of the 'dank, 
steaming Venusian jungle. Prob- 
ably, he realized with a smile, it was 
the ooly oM-fasMoned recoil rifle 
on the entire planet. As if anyone 
else would want to use oae of those 
old bone-cracking relics today! But 
they all failed to ' realize it made 
sport much more interesting. 

"I haven't seen anytliing for a 
wMle," his wife said. She had a 
young, pretty face and a strong 
youiig body. If you have money 
these days, you could really keep a 
tliirty-ive year old woman looking 
trim. 

Ndt on ■Venus, of course. Venus 
was an outpost, a frontier, a hot, 
wctj evil-smelliag place that beck- 
oned only tile big-garne tonter. He ' 



said, "That's true. Yesterday we 
could bag them one after tlie (jther, 
as fast as I could fire this contrap- 
tion. Today, if there's anything big- 
ger than a pioiisc, it's hiding in a 
hole .somewhere. You know what I 
think, Liiidy?" 

"Wlmt?" 

*'I think there's a reason for It. 
A lot of the early ¥enusian hunters' 
said there m'ere days like this. An 
area filled with big lizards and cats 
and e¥erytMng else the day before 
.suddenly seems to clear out, for no 
reason. It doesn't make sense." 

"Why not? Why couldn't they all 
just decide to make tracLs' for some- 
place else on the same day?" 

He slapped at an insect that was 
buzzing around his right ear, tfien 
mopped his sweating brow with a 
handkerchief. His name was Judd 
Whitney, and people said he had a 
lot of money. Now he laughedj pat- 



77 



78 ' , 

ting his wife's trim shoulder under 
the white tunic. "No, Lindy, It just 
doesn't ..work that way. . Not on 
Earth and ndt on Venus, either. 
You think there's a pied-piper or 
something which calls all the ani- 
j^mals away?" 

"Maybe. I don't know much 
about those things." 

"No, I don't think they went any- 
place. They're just quiet. They 
didn't come" out of their holes or 
hovels. or down from the trees. But 
why?" 

"Well, let's forget it. Let's go 
back to camp. We can ■ try again 
tomor— look! Look, there's some- 
thing!" 

Judd followed her pointing fin- 
ger with his eyes. Half-hidden by 
the creepers and vioes clinging to 
an old 'tree-stump, something was 
watching them. It wasn't ¥ery big 
and it seemed, in no hurry to get 
away. 

"What is it?" Lindy wanted to 
know. 

"Don't know. Never saw any- 
thing like it before. Venu.s is still 
an unknown frontier ; the books ' 
only name a couple dozen of the 
biggest animals. But hell, Lindy, 
tliat's not gam£. I don't think it 
weighs five pounci.s." 

"it's cute, and it lias a lovely, 
skin." 

Judd couldn't argue with that. 
Squatting on it.s haunches, the crea- 
ture was about twenty inches tall. 
It had a pointed snout and two 
thin, long ears. Its eyes were very 
big and very round and quite black. 
They looked something like the eyes 
of an Earthian tarsier, but the tar- 
sier were bloody little beasts. The 



: MILTON LESSER 

skin was short and stiff and was a 
kind of silvery white. Under the 
sheen, however,^ it seemed to glow. 
A diamond is co!orles.s, Judd 
thought, but 'when you see it under 
light a whole rainbow of colors 
sparkle deep within it. This crea- 
ture's skin was like that, Judd de- 
cided. 

"If we could get , enough of 
them," Lindy was saying, "I'd have 
the most unusual coat! Do you 
think we could find enough, Judd?" 

"I doubt it. Never saw anything 
like it before, never heard of any- 
thing like it. You'd need fifty of 
'em, anyway. Let's forget about it— 
too small to shoot, anyway." 

"No, Judd. I want it." 

"Well, I'm not going to stalk a 
five-pound — hey, wait a minute! I 
taught you how to use this rifle, so 
why don't you bag it?" 

Lindy grinned. "That's a fine 
idea. I was a little scared of some of 
those big lizards and cats and every- 
thing, but now Fm going 'to take 
you up on it. Here, give me your 
gun." 

Judd removed the leather thong 
from hi.s shoulder and handed the 
weapon to her. She looked at it a 
little uncertainly, then took the clip 
of shells which Judd offered and 
slammed it into the chamber. The 
little creature sat unrnoving. 

"Isn't it peculiar that it doesn't 
run away, Judd?" 

"Sure is. Hothing formidable 
about that animal, so unless it has 
a hidden poison somewhere, just 
about anything in this swamp could 
do it in. To survive it would have to 
be fast as hell and it wovdd have 
to keep running all the time. Beats 



BLACK EYES and the DAILY GRIND 



79 



me, Lindy," 

"Well, I'm going to get myself 
oae pelt toward that coat, Mifivzy. 
Watch, Judd : is this the way?" She 
lifted the rifle 'to her shoulder and 
squinted down the sights toward 
the shining creature. 

"Yeah, that's the way. Only re- 
lax. Relax. Shoulder's so tense 
you're liable to dislocate it with the 
kick. There — that's better." 

Now Lindy's finger was wrapped 
around the trigger and she remem- 
bered Judd had told her to squeeze 
it, not to pull it. If you pulled the 
trigger you jerked the rifle and 
spoiled your aim. You had to 
squeeze it slowly . . . 

The animal seemed politely in- 
terested. 

Suddenly, a delicious languor 
stole over Lindy. It possessed her 
all at once and she had no idea 
where it came from. Her legs had 
been stiff and tired from the all- 
morning trek through the swamp, 
but now they felt fine. Her whole 
body was suffused in a warm, satis- 
fied glow of well-being. And lazi- 
ness. It was an utterly new sensa- 
tion and she could even feel it 
tingling even at the , root.s of her 
hair. She sighed and lowered the 
rifle. 

"I don't want to shoot it," she 
said. 

"You just told me you did." 

"1 know, but I changed my mind. 
What's the matter, can't I change 
my mind?" 

"Of course you can change your 
mind. _ But I thought you wanted a 
coat of those things." 

"Yes, I suppose I do. But I don't 
want to shcxjt it, that's aU." 



Judd snorted. "I think you have 
a streak of softness someplace in 
tltat pretty head of yours!" 

"Maybe. I don't know. But I'd 
still like the pelt. Funny, isn't it?" 

"Okay, okay! But don't a-sk to 
use the gun again." Judd snatched 
it from her hands. "If you don't 
want to shoot it, then I will Maybe 
we can make you a pair of gloves 
or something from the pelt." 

And Judd pointed his ancient 
rifle at the little animal pre- 
paring to snap off a quick shot. 
It would be a cinch at this distance. 
Even Lindy wouldn't have niissed, 
if she hadn't changed her mind, 

Judd yawned. He'd failed to 
realize he was so tired. Not an ach- 
ing kind of tiredness, but the kind 
that makes you feel good all over. 
He yawned again and lowered the 
riie. "Changed my mind," he .said. 
"I don't want to shoot it, either. 
What say we head back for camp?" 

Lindy gripped his harid impul- 
sively. "All right, Judd— but I had 
a brainstorm! I want it for a pet!" 

"A pet?" 

"Ye.s. I think it would be the 
cutest tiling. Even'one would look 
and wonder and I'll adore it!" 

"We don't know anything about 
it. Maybe Earth would be too cold, 
or too ciry, or maybe we den't have 
anything it can eat. Tliere are liable 
to be a hundred different strains of 
bacteria that can kill it." 

"I said I want it for a pet. See? 
Look at it! We can call it Blaclt 
lyes." 

"Black Eyes—" Judd groaned. 

"Yes, Black Eyes. If you don't do 
this one tHng for me, Judd — " , 

"Okay— okay. But I'm aot going 



80 

to do anytliiiig. You want it, you 
take it." 

Lindy frowned, looked at Mm 
crossly, then sloshed across -the 
swamp toward Black Eyes. Tlie 
creature waited on its stump until 
she came quite close, and then, with 
a playful little bound, it hopped 
onto her shoulder, still squatting on 
its haunclies. Lindy squealed ex- 
citedly and began to stroke its sil- 
¥ery fur. 



A MONTH LATER, they returned 
to Earth. Judd and Lindy and 
Blacl Eyes. The hunting trip had 
beea a , success— Judd'. s tropMes 
were on their way home on a slow 
freighter, and he'd have .some fine 
heads and skins for his study-room. 
Even Black Eyes had been no trou- 
ble at all. It ate scraps from their 
table, forever sitting on its liaunches 
and staring at then with its big 
black eyes. Judd thought it would 
make one helluva lou.sy pet, but he 
didn't tell Lindy. Trouble was, it 
never did anything. It merely sat 
still, or occasionally it would 
b(,)unce clowja to the floor and miiice 
along on its hind-legs for a, scrap 
of food. It never uttered a .sound. It 
did not frolic and it did not gam- 
bol. Mosl^of tlie time it could have 
been car¥ed from stone. But lindy 
was happy and Judd said nothing. 

They had a little trouble with the 
cu!5tom.s officials. Tliis becaua; noth- 
ing imknom'ti could be brought to 
Earth without a thorough examina- 
tion. 

At the customs office, a be- 
spectacled official stared at Black 
Eyes, scratching his head. "Never 



MILTON LESSER ^ 

seen one like that before." 

"Neither have I," Judd admitted. 

"Well, I'll look in tlie hook." The 
man did, but there are no thorough 
tomes on Venusian fauna. "Not 
here." 

"I could have told you." 

"WeE, we'll have to quarantine 
it and study it. That means .you 
and your wife go into quarantine, 
too. It could have something that's 
catching." 

"Absurd!" Lindy cried. 

"Sorry, lady. I only work here." 

"Yoii and your bright ideas," 
Judd told his wife acidly. "We may 
be quarantined a month until they 
satisfy theni.selves about Black 
Eyes." 

The customs official shrugged Ms 
bony shoulders; and Judd removed 
a twenty credit note from his pocket 
and handed it to the man. "Will 
this change your mind?" 

"I should say not! You- can't 
bribe me, Mr. Whitney! Yon 
can't — " The man yawned, 
stretched languidly, smiled. "No sir, 
you can keep your money, Mr. 
WMtaey. Guess we don't have to 
examine your pet after all. Mighty 
cute little feller. Well, have, fun 
with it. Coine on, mo¥e along now." 
And, as they were departing with 
Black Eyes, still not believing their 
ears: "Darn this weather! Makes a 
man so lazy. . . ." 

It was after the affair at the 
customs office, that Black Eyes ut- 
tered its first sound. City life hasn't 
changed much in the last ifty years. 
Jet-cars still streak around the cir- 
cumferential highways,, their whis- 
tles Mx^ring. , Factories still belch 
smoke and steam, although the new 



BLACK EYES and the DAILY GRIND 



81 



atomic power plants have lessened 
that to a certain extent Crowds 
still throng the s-treets, noisy, liuriy- 
ing, ill-mannered. It's one of those 
things that can't be helped. A city 
has to live, and it has to make noise. 

But it seemed to frighten lindy's 
new pet. It stared through the jet- 
car window on the way from the 
spaceport to the Whitney's subur- 
ban home, its black eyes welling 
with tears. 

"Look!" Judci exclaimed. "Black 
Eyes can cry!" 

"A crying pet, Judd. I knew 
there would be something unusual 
about Black Eyes, I just knew it!" 

The tears In the big black eyes 
overflowed and tumbled out, roll- 
ing dcnvn Black Eyes' silvery cheeks. 
And then Black Eyes whimpered. It 
was only a brief whimper, but both 
Judd and Lindy heard it, and even 
the dri¥er turned around for a mo- 
ment and, stared at the animal. 

The driver stopped the jet. He 
yawned and rested his head com- 
fortably on the cushiooed seat. He 
went quietly to sleep. 



A MAN NAMED Merrywinkle 
owned the Merrywinkle Shipping 
Service. Tliat, in itself, was not un- 
u.OTaI. But at precisely the moment 
■ that Black Eyes unleashed its mild 
whimper, Mr. Merrywinkle — up- 
town and fwe miles away— called 
an emergency conference of the 
board of directors and, declared: 
"Gentlemen, we have all been 
working too hard, and I, for one, 
am going to take a yacation. I doa't 
know when I'll be back, hut it 
won't be before six months." 



"But CM./' someone protested. 
"There's the Parker deal and the 
Gilette contract and a dozen other 
tilings. You're needed!" 

Mr. Merrywinkle shook Ms bald 
head. "What's more, you're all tak- 
ing vacations, with pay. Six 
months, each of you. We're closing 
down Merrywinlle SHpping for 
half a year. Give the competition a 
break, eh?" 

"But CM.! We're about ready 
t0 squeeze out Chambers Pa,rcel 
Go. I They'll get back on their feet 
in six month,s." 

"Never mind. Notify all depart- 
ments of the shut-down, effective 
immediately. Vacations for alL" 



WHO SHUT off the assembly 
belt?" the foreman asked mild- 
ly. He was not a mild .man asd he 
usually .stormed and ranted at the 
slightest provocation. This was at 
Glewson Jetcraft, a,n,d you couldn't 
produce a single jet-plane without 
the assembly belt, naturally. 

A plump Uttle man said, "I did." 
"But why?" the foreman asked 
him, smiling blandly, 

"I don't know. I just did." 
The foreman -was still smiling. 'T 
don't: blame you." 

Two days later, Clewsoii Jet- 
craft .had to lay off all its help. 
They put ads in all the papers seek- 
ing new personnel but no one 
showed up. Glewson was forced to 
shut ddwn. 



THE CRACK Boston to New 
York pneumo-tube commuter's 
special pulled to a bone-jarring 



82 

atop immediately outside the New 
York station. Some angry com- 
muters pried open the conductor's 
cab, and found the man snoozing 
quite contentedly. They awakened 
him, but lie refused to drive the 
train any further. All the com- 
muters had to leave the pneumo- 
train and edge their way along 
three miles of catwalk to the sta- 
tion. No one was very happy about 
it,' but the feeling of well-being 
which came over them all nipped 
any poaible protest in tlie bua. 



BLACK EYES whimpered again 
when Judd and Lindy reached 
home but after that it was quiet. It 
just sat on its haunches near the 
window and stared out at the city. 

The quiet city. 

Nothing moved in th,e streets. 
Nothing stirred. People remained 
at home watching local video or 
the new space-video from Mars. At 
first it was a good joke, and the 
newspapers could have had a ield 
day with it, had the newspapers re- 
mained in circulation. After four 
days, however, they suspended pub- 
lication. On the fifth day, there was 
a shortage of food in the city, great 
stores of it spoiling in the ware- 
houses. Heat and light failed after 
a week, and the fire department .ig- 
nored all alarms a da,y later. 

But everything did not' stop. 
School teachers still taught their 
classes; clerks still sold whatever 
goods were left oa local shelves. 
Librfiriaiis were stilhat their desks. 

Conser¥atives said it was a 
liberal plot to underroine capital 
and demand higher wag-es; liberals 



■ . MILTON LESSER 

said big business could afford the 
temporary layofi' and wanted to 
squeeze out the small businessman 
and labor unions. 

Scientists pondered and city offi- 
cials made speeches over video, 

"Something," one of them ob- 
served, "has hit our city. Work that 
requires aoything above a modicum 
of sound lias become impossible; in 
regards to such work people have 
become lazy. No ope can offer any 
valid suggestions concerning the 
malady. It merely exists. However, 
if a stop is not put to it- — and soon 
• — our fair city will disintegrate. 
Something is making us lazy, and 
that laziness cao spell doom, being 
a coiripuLsive lack of desire to create 
any noise or disturbance. If anyone 
believes he ha.s the solution, lie 
should contact the Department of 
Science at once. If you can't use 
the video-phone, come in person. 
But come! Every hour which passes 
adds to the city's wcjes." 
" Nothing but scatter-brained ideas 
for a week, none of them worth 
consideration. Then the bespec- 
tacled custom's official wlio had, by- 
paissed quarantine for Blaclc Eyes, 
got in touch with the authorities. 
He had always beea a conscientious 
man — except for that one lapse. 
Maybe the cjtieer little ■beast had 
nothing to do with this crisis. But 
then, tgain, the custom's official 
had iie¥er before — or since — ^liad 
that strange feeling of lassitiifle. 
Could there be some connection? 

A staff of experts on extra-ter- 
restrial fauna was dispatched to the 
Whitney residence, although, in- 
deed, the chaimian of the Depart- 
ment of Science secretly considered 



BLACK EYES and the DAILY GRIND 



the whole idea ridiculous. 

The staff of experts introduced 
themselves. Thf.'n, ignoring the 
protests of Lindy, went to work on 
Black Eyes. At first Judd thought 
the aiiimal would object, but ap- 
parently it did not. While condi- 
tions all about' them in the city 
worsened, the experts spent three 
days studying Black Eyes. 

They found nothing out of the 
ordinary. 

' Black Eyes merely stared back at 
them, 'and but for an accident, they 
would have departed %vitiiout a 
lead. On the third day, a huge 
mongrel dog which belonged to 
the Whitney's next-door neighbors 
somehow slipped its leash. It was a 
fierce and ugly animal, and it was 
known to attack anything smaller 
than itself. It jumped the fence and 
landed in Judd Whitney's yard. .4 
few loping bounds took it through 
an open window, grouad level. In- 
side, it spied Black ^Eyes and made 
for the creature at once, howling 
furiously. 

Black Eyes didn't budge. 

And the mongrel changed its 
mind! The slavering tongue with- 
, drew iDside the cliops, the howling 
stopped. The mongrel lay down on 
the floor and whined. Presently it 
lo.st all interest,' got to its feet, and 
left as it had come. 

Other animals were brought to 
the Whitney home. Cats. Dogs. A 
lion from the city zoo, star¥ed for 
two days and brought in a special 
mobile cage by its keeper. Black 
Eyes was thrust into the cage and 
the lion gave forth with a hideous 
yowling. Soon it stopped, rolled 
over, and slept. 



83 

THE SCIENTISTS correlated 
th,eir reports, returned with them 
to the Whitney hou.<;e. The leader, 
whose name was Jamison, said: 
"As closely as we can tell, Black 
Eyes is the culprit." 

"What?" Lindy demanded. 

"Yes, Mrs. Whitney, Your pet, 
Black Eyes." 

«Oh, I don't believe it!" 

But Judd said, "Go aliead, Dr. 
Jamison. I'm listening." 

"Well, how does an aiiimal — -any 
aBimal — protect itself?" 

"Why, in any number of ways. If 
It has claws or a strong jaw and 
long teeth, it can fight. If it is fleet 
of foot, it can run. If it is big and 
has a tough hide, most other ani- 
mals can't hurt it anyway. Umni- 
miri, doesn't that about cover it?" 

"You left out protective colora- 
tion, defensive odor.s, and things 
like that- Actually, those are most 
important from our point of view, 
for Black Eyes' ability is a further 
-ramification of that sort of thing. 
Your pet is not fast. It isn't strong. 
It can't change color and it has no 
offensive odor to chase off preda- 
tory enemies. It ha.s no armor. In 
short, can you think of a more help- 
les.s creature to put down in those 
Veriusian swamps?" 

After Judd had shaken his head, 
Dr. Jamison continued: "\Yry 
well, Black Eyes should not be able 
to survive on Venus — and 'yet, ob- 
viously the creature did. We ca,n, 
assume tfiere arc more of the breed, 
too. Anyway, Black Eyes survives. 
And I'll tell you why. 

"Black Eyes has a very uncom- 
mon ability to sfiiise danger when 
it approaches. And sensing danger. 



84 

Black Eyes- caii thwart it. Your 
creature sends out certain emana- 
tiom— I won't pretend to know 
what they are— which stamp ag- 
gression out of any predatory crea- 
tures. Neither of you could fire 
upon it— right?" 

"Umm-min, that's true/' Judd 
said. 

Liiidy nodded. 

"Well, that's one half of it. 
There's so much about life we don't 
understand. Black Eyes uses energy 
of an unkBowii intensity, and the 
result maintains Black Eyes' life. 
Nov/, although that is the case, 
your animal did not live a com- 
fortable life in the Venusian 
swamp. Becau.5e no animal would 
attack it, it could not be harmed. 
Still, from what you tell me about 
that swamp. ... 

i "Anyhow, Black Eyes was glad 
to come away with you, and every- 
thing went well until you landed in 
New York. The aoises, the clatter- 
ing,, the continual bustle of a great 
city— all this frightened the crea- 
ture. It was being attacked-^or, at 
least that's what it must have fig- 
ured. Result: it struck back the 
only way it knew how. Have you 
ever heard about sub-sonic sound- 
waves, Mr. 'Whitney, wave.? of 
sound so low that our ear.? cannot 
pick tliem mp — waves of sound 
which can nevertheless stir our 
emotions? Such things exist, and, as 
a working hypothesis, I would say 
Black Eyes' strange powers rest 
along those lines. The whole city 
is idle because Black Eyes is 
afraid!" 

In Ms -exploration of Mars, of 
Venus, of the Jovian Moons — Judd 



■ ■ MILTON LESSER 

Whitney had seen enough of extra- 
terrestrial life to knew that virtually 
anything wss possible, and Black 
Eyes woiilcl be no exception to that 
rule. 

"What do you propose to do?" 
Judd demanded. 

"Do? Why, we'll have to kill your 
creature, naturally. You. can set a 
value oti it and we will meet it, but 
Black Eyes must die." 

*5No!" Lindy cried. "You can't 
be sure, you're only gmessiog, and 
it isn't fair!" 

"My dear woman, don't you 
realize this is a serious situation? 
The city's people will starve in 
time, No one can even bring food 
in because the trucks make too 
much noise! As an alternative, we 
could evacuate, but is your pet 
more valuable than the life of a 
great city?" 

"M-no. . . ." 

"Then, please! Listen to reason!" 

"Kill it," Judd .said. "Go ahead." 

Dr. Jamison withdrew from Ms 
pocket ■ a small Masting pistol used 
by the Dejiartment of Domestic 
Animals for elimination of injured 
creatures. He advanced on Black 
Eyes, who sat on its haunches in the 
center of the room, 3ur¥cying the 
scientist. ^ ■ ■ " 

Dr. Jamison put his blaster away, 
"I can't," he said. "I don't want 
to." 

Judd smiled. "I know it. No one 
—no thing— -can kill Black Eyes. 
You said so yourself. It was a waste 
of time to try it. In that case— =-" 

"In that case,'* Dr. JamisoB fin- 
ished for him, "we're helpless. 
There isn't a man — or 'an animal— 
on Earth that wfll destroy this 



BLACK EYES and the DAILY GRIND 



S5 



thing. Wait a.minute— does it sleep, 
Mr. Whitney?" 

"I don't thiiik so. At least, I 
never saw it sleep. And your team 
of scientists, did the¥ report any- 
thing?" 

"No. As far as they could see, the 
creature never slept. We can't catch 
it unawares." 

"CoulcJ you anesthetize it?" 
"How? It can sense danger, and 
long before you ' could do that, it 
would -Stop you. It's only made one 
mistake, Mr. Whitney; it believes 
the noises of the city represent a 
danger. And that's only a negative 
mistake. Noise won't hurt Black 
Eyes, of course. It simply makes the 
animal unnecessarily cautious. But 
we cannot anesthetize it any more 
than we can kill it." 

"I could take it back to Venus." 
"Could you? Could you? I 
hadn*t thought of that." 

Judd sliook his head. "I can't." 
■"What do you 'mean you can't?" 
"It won't let me. Somehow it can 
sense our thoughts when we think 
something it doesn't want. I can't 
take it to Venus! No man could, be- 
cause it doesn't want to 'go." 
. "My dear Mr. Whitney — do you 
mean to say you believe it can 
think?" 

"Uh-uh. Didn't say that. It can 
sense our thoughts, and that's 
something else again." 

Dr. Jamison threw his hands up 
over his head in a dramatic gesture. 
"It's hopeless," he said. 



THINGS GREW worse. New 
York crawled along to a stand- 
still. People began to move from 



the city. In trickles, at first, but the 
trickl&s becarfie torrents, as New 
York's ten million people began to 
depart for saner places. It might 
take months — it' might even take 
years, but the e,Kodus had begun. 
Nothing could stop it. Because of a 
harmless little beast with the eyes 
of a tarsier. the life of a great city 
was corning to an end. 

Word spread. Scientists all over 
the world studied report,? on. Black 
Eyes. No one had any ideas. Eveiy- 
one was stumped. Black Eyes had 
no particular desire to go outside, 
'Black Eyes merely remained in the 
■ Whitney house, contemplating 
nothing in particular, and stopping 
everything. 

Dr. Jamison, however, was a per- 
sistent man. Judd got a letter from 
him one day, and the following 
afternoon he kept his appointment 
with the scientist. 

"It's good to get out," Judd said, 
after a three hour walk to the De- 
partment of Science Building. "I 
can go crazy Just staring at that 
thing?' 

"i have it, Whitney." 

"You have what? Not the way to 
destroy Black Eyes? I dcm't believe 
it!" 

"It's true. Consider, Everyone in 
the world does not yet know of you,r 
pet, correct?" ' . 

"I stipposc there are a few people 
who don't--" ' 

"There are many. Among them, 
are the crew of a jet-bomber which 
has been on maneuvers in Egypt. 
We have arranged everythting." 

"Yes? How?" • 

"At jioon tomorrow, the bomber 
will appear over your home with 



86 

OHe of the ancient, Hgh-explosive 
missiles. Your neighbors will be re- 
moved from the vicinity, and, pre- 
cisely at twelve-o-three' in the af ter- 
ncxiii, the bomb will be dropped. 
Your home will be destroyed. Black 
Eyes will be destroyed with it." 

Judd looked uncomfortable. "I 
dunno," lie said. "Sounds too easy." 

"Too easy? I doubt if the animal 
will ever sense what is going on — ■ 
not when the crew of the bomber 
doesn't Inow, either. They'll con- 
sider it a mighty peculiar order, to 
destroy one harmless, rather large 
and rather elaborate suburban 
hoine. But they'll do it. See you to- 
morrow, Whitney, after this' mess is 
'behind us." 

"Yeali," Judd said. "Yeah." But 
soiiiehowj the scientist had failed to 
Instill any of his confidence in 
Judd. 



WITH LIHDY, he left home at 
if eleven th,e following morning, 
after making a thorough list of all 
their properties which the City had 
promised to diiplieate. Judd did 
not look at Black Eyes as he left, 
and the animal remained where it 
was, -seated on its haunches under 
the dining room -table, nibbling 
crumbs. Judd could^, almost feel the 
big round eyes borirfg a fiat of twin 
holes in his bad, and lie dared not 
turn around to face them. . . . 

They were a mile away at 
eleven forty-five, making their way 
through 'the nearly deserted streets. 
Judd stopped walking. He looked 
at Lindy. Lindy looked at him. 

"They're going to destroy it," he 
said. 



MILTON LESSER 

"I know." 

"Do yom want them to?" 

Judd knew that, something had 
to be done with Black Eyes. He 
didn't like the Httle beast, and, any- 
way, that had nothing to do with it. 
Black Eyes was a menace. And yet, 
something whispered in Jiidd's ear. 
Don't let them, don't let them. . . . 
It wasn't Judd and it wasn't Judd's 
subconscious. It wa.s Black Eyes, 
and he knew it. But he couldn't do 
a^ thing about it — 

"I'm going to stay right here and 
let them bomb the place," he said 
aloud. But as he spoke, he was run- 
ning back the way he had come. 

Fifteen minutes. '■ 

He sprinted part of the time, 
then rested, then sprintgd again. He 
was somewhat on the beefy side and 
he could not run fast, but he made 
It. Just. 

He heard the jet streaking 
through the sky overhead, looked 
up once and saw It circling. Two 
blocks from his house he was met 
by a policeman. The entire area 
had been roped off, and the officer 
shook his head when Judd tried to 
get through. 

"But I live there!" 

"Can't help it, Mister. Orders is 
orders." 

Judd hit him, Judd didn't want 
to, but nevertheless, he grunted 
with satisfaction when he felt the 
blow to be a good one, catching the 
stocky oflcer on the point of his 
chin and tumbling him over back- 
wards. Then Judd was ducking un- 
der the fope and running. 

He reached his house, plum- 
metted in through the- front door. 



BLACK EYES and the DAILY GRIND 



87 



He found Black Eyes under the 
kitchen table, squatting on its 
haunches. He scooped the animal 
up, ran outside. Then he was run- 
Bing again, and before he reached 
the barrier, something rocked liini. 
A loud series of explosions ripped 
through his brain, and instinctively 
— Black Eyes' instincts, not his— he 
folded his arms over the animal, 
protecting it. Sometliing shuddered 
and began to fall behind him, and 
debris scattered in all directions. 
Something struck Judd's head and 
he felt the ground slapping up 
crazily at Ms face — 

'He was- as good as nev/ a few 
days later. 

And so was Black Eyes. 

"I have it," Judd said to Ms 
nurse. 

"You, have what, sir?" 

"It'.? so simple, so ridiculously 
simple, maybe that's why no one 
ever thought of it. Get me Dr. 
Jamison!" 

Jamison came a few moments 
hiter, breathless.* "Well?" 

"I have the solution." 

"You . . . do2" Not much hope 
in the ansm-er. Dr. Jamison was a 
tired, defeated man. 

"Sure. Black Eyes doesn't like the 
city. Fine. Take him out. I can't 
take him to Venus. He doesn't like 
Venus and he won't go. No one 
can take him anyplace he doesn't 
want to go, just as no one can hurt 
him in any way. But he doesn't Hhe 
the city. It's too noisy. All right: 
have someone take him far from 



the city, far far away- — where 
there's no noise at all. Someplace 
out in the sticks where it won't 
matter much if Black Eyes puts a 
stop to any disturbing noises." 

"Who will talce him? You, Mr. 
Whitney?" 

Judd shook his head. "That's 
your job, not mine. I've givcB you 
the an-swer. Now use it." 

Liridy had arrived, and Lindy 
.said: "Judd, you're right. That is 
the answer. And you're wonder- 
ful--" 

No one volunteered to spend his 
life in exile with Black Eyes, but 
then Dr. Jamison pointed out that 
while no one knew the creature's 
life-span, it certainly couldn't be 
expected to match man'.s. Just a 
few years and the beast would die, 
and . . . Dr. Jamison's arguments 
wore so logical that he convinced 
himself. He took Black Eyes with 
Mm into the Canadian North- 
woods, and there they live. 



JUDD was right— almost. 
This was the obvious answer 
wliich escaped everyone. 

.But scientists continued their 
examinations of Black Eyes, and 
they discovered jsoiiiething. Black 
Eyes fears had not been for herself 
alone. She is going to have babies. 
The estimate is for thirty-five little 
tar'sier-eyed creatures. No doctor in 
the world will be able to do any- 
thing but deliYer the Mtter. 



THE END • 



Of Stegners Folly 



When a twenty-foot goddess 
walked out of the jungle, 
they knew LStegner wmtft 
kidding. 

By Richard S. Shaver 



OLD PROF STEGNER 
never foresaw the compli- 
^ cations his selective anti- 
gTa¥itationaJ ield would cause. 
Knowing the grand old man as I 
did, I can say that lie never in- _ 
tended his "blessing" should be-' 
come tile curse to mankind that it 
did. And the catastrophe it brouglit 
about was certainly beyond range 
of all prophecy. 

Of course, anyoBe who lived in 
1972 and tried to get inside Steg- 
iier's weird life-circle must agree 
that you can get too much of a 
good thing. Even a puiriplin can. 
get too big— and that's what hap- 
pened when the Prof turned on his 
field — things got big; and too 
darned liealtliy! 

I was there the day Stegner an-. 
nounced the results of ten year's 



Only the fire-power of cannon 
could stop the monster. 



research on his selector. Nearly 
everyone present had read the sen- 
sational articks concerning Ms 
work in the feature sections of the 
big town newspapers. Like the rest, 
I had a vague idea of what it was 
about. It seemed the. Prof had de- 
veloped a device that repelled vari- 
ous }3articlcs of 'matter without 
effecting others. In short, if he 
turned on Ms gadget, gravity re- 
versed itself for certain elements, 
and thej wcmt away in a hurry. 
Like this: he could take o-xide of 
iron, turn on Km selective repdlor, 
and the rust rather magically 
turned -to pure iron without the 
oxygen. Or, he could take a pile of 
mixed diernicals, turn his coBtrol 
■ knobs to the elements known to he 
present in the mixture, and presto! 
Only certain ones, of his choosing 
remained. The atoms of the other 
elements con¥enieiitly left the ¥i- 
cinity. 

All of which was interesting and 



Sf 



90 

extremely useful. The Prof prompt- 
ly got rich selling patent rights to 
the device, «•• tuned to certain fre- 
queacies which refined heretofore 
unrefiiiable ores. His device made 
an impro¥femeiit over most known 
methods of refining, costing far less 
in opexation than the standard and 
often complicated metliods pre- 
viously in use. 

Money gave the oM^ man his op- 
portunity. He fitted out a big re- 
search lab in California, not 
too 'far from civilization, but se- 
cluded enough for secrecy. Then he 
set about to try Ms selective repellor 
on living tissues. His suspicion, that 
wonderful things could be discov- 
ered if he tuned Ms anti-gravita- 
tional field to the undesirable ele- 
ments in the body, was confirmed. 
Like lead poisoning — sonietliing bo 
doctor can^ cure if it is severe. He 
found that lie could cure a case of 
lead poisoning merely by iiiaHng 
the lead go away from there via the 
field. More wonderful things began 
to come out of the Stegaer labora- 
tory, and lie made a lot more 
rnoaey. 

Which was all very well indeed, 
oaly the Prof couldn't leave well 
enough alonC' — he had to delve and 
pry. He had Ms own ttieories about 
disease and its cause, old age, and 
so on — all nuttier than a fruit cake. 
He was something of a crank on 
various health foods and diets that 
left c)«t foods raised with cliemi^.il 
fertifeers. He had an organic I'.'t- 
deji, a garden where no chenii< J. 
fertiEar or poison spray was e\C3: 
u$ed. And after all, who knew bet- 
t'er than the Prof — wlio could iso- 
late them ill a trice— how many 



RICHARD S. SHAVER 

poisons could be found accumulat- 
ing in the average human body, 
consumed along with perfectly 
Imrmless foods during a lifetime? 
■ Anyway, wlieia 'the Prof called in 
the press, myself among tlienij he- 
was really excited. "Gentlemen," he ' 
said, "I have solved the - greatest 
medical puzzle of all time. Before 
me, iio medical man knew llie 
caii8e of old age. I have proved 
what the deterioration factor is, 
and I have provided a remedy — a 
sure and immediate remedy! The 
golden age of mankind is here ! Our 
life span can be greatly extended!" 
I looked at Jake Heinz, my 
^ cameraman. Jake winked at me, 
' but I didn't respond. I liked the 
Prof. Such a fine old gentleman, to 
go whacky .from so much success . . . 
Jake toolc a few shots of the 
Profs rabbits- and -guinea pigs, of 
the Prof Hnisclf, and of the ap- 
paratus he had coii.structed which 
he claimed drove out the causative 
poison of age; a poison he called a 
radioactive isotope of Potassium. 
The other reporters, not having the ' 
soft hearts Jake and I toted around, 
wrote him up as a joke ; said right 
out they thought the old boy. was 
blowing Ms top. Immortality! Hah! 
f They presented -the whole thing as 
a farce. - . -.- 

- - No reporters were ever more 
wrong than those smart buctos. - 



Si^ME MONTHS - after the 
Profs little news coefereace was 
owr and- forgotten, an -item of vast 
importance turned up. It seemed 
that around -Stegner's secluded re- 
treat there was a line where' things 



OF STEGNER'S FOLLY 

started. What kind of things? Well, 
up to that line, things were normal ; 
but beyond it, grass got enormous, 
the ground was higher and softer. 
Trees forgot to shed their leaves. 
Animals flocked ^ there to eat the 
lush grass, so Urn Prof erected a 
ten-foot electrified fence around 
his land to keep out the hordes of 
rabbits, deer, mice and what have 
yoti that came to feast off the new 
supply of better forage. 

That was only the beginning. 
Some months later there caree 
items about houseflies the size of 
walnuts hatching out around the 
Profs retreat. Now a swarm of 
•houseflies the size of walnuts is 
news, and Jake and I got up there 
on the jump. 

It was terrific! The flies were 
• there all right, but so were a good 
many other oversized creatures. 
Roosting in the trees were robins, 
bluebirds, and doves as large as 
turkeys. King-sized ducks wad- 
dled about importantly, displaying 
pouter-pigeon crops' from overeat- 
ing. It was as if some god had 
drawn a line and said : "This is the 
new Eden, where all h'ving things 
will prosper terrifically." 

You ne¥er saw a sight like it! 
Or did- you? Were you one of tlie 
horde who starte4 camping around 
the Prof's magic circle trying to get 
permission to enter? 

It was then we got proof that it 
pays to be kind. Of alj the news- 
grabbers who surrounded the Prof's 
big wire gate, Jale and I were the 
only ones who got ib,. The old man 
had not forgotten, who had taken 
him seriously and who had made 
fun of him. 



9! 

Jake snapped a .series of startling 
pics of the oversized animals and 
birds. I interviewed the Prof again,, 
even got his maid, Tilda's opinion.s, 
and wrote it up as iinsensationally 
as possible, playing down the tre- 
mendous potential for trouble, 
playing up the really effective 
method the old scientist had discov- 
ered for "eliininating the deteriora- 
tion factor" in life. I could see 
where the world was in for some 
changes, and the going was goin.g 
to be rough enough for the old man 
without making it worse. But my 
efforts came to naught when, the 
pics Jake had talcen reached the 
editor's desk. He- hit the ceiling, 
called me on the carpet, wanted to 
know where my news sense had 
gotten lo.st. Then he sent out' three 
otiier smart boys to do a good job 
on it. 

The paper got out a special edi- 
tion — and the troubles I liad fore- 
seen began. F,irst. the ■government 
stepped in, trying to hush-hush the 
whole thing; but too late. The rush 
had started. For miles around the 
poor Prof's fenced-in hideaway, 
cars and trailers parked in a' mad 
senseless jumble. People crowded 
against the fences and -the elec- 
tricity had to be shut off. Some 
smart aleck produced wire cutters 
and made an opening. The in- 
vasion of the new Eden had begun. 

Stegner took flight, taking his .se- 
cret apparatu,s and files with him. 
He declined police escort, and van- 
ished from his mad Eden, Where 
he went was impossible to learn, 
but I supposed the government 
.knew. 

The area he had revitalized with 



92 

his selective field was a nine days 
wonder, and after just about that 
long it was a tramped over, paper 
strewn, garbage littered wreck. The 
oversized animals and birds drifted 
away, the huge Iiouseflies perished 
^or were eaten by tlie birds. Ap- 
parently that was the end of the 
thing. Humanity had triumphed 
over its savior 'with its usual stupid 
interference. 

A few of us remembered, could 
not put out of our minds the sig- 
nificaBce of what tlie old man had 
done. He had pointed the %%'ay to 
a lush immortality, and he liad 
been slioved aside and pawed over 
and written, about like some freiik. 
If .he had been a notorious criminal, 
lie would have gotten far better 
journalistic treatment. 

Bat the years went by— four, fi¥e 
of them. And nothing more was 
heard of Stegner and his work. Un- 
til, one day coming liome from a 
night shiftfcn the paper, I found a 
letter in my box. It was a_ rather 
plain looking envelope, but much 
larger than the ordinary. The 
handwritten address was quite legi- 
ble, but very big, as if a giant hand 
had cramped itself to produce ordi- 
■ nary script : ■ ■ 

Dear old friend: 

You may have forgotten me, but 
I do not forget you. If you would 
like to pin me for « time, insert a 
notice to Harry F in the personal 
column to that effect. I am trusting 
you to keep my secret. 

Stegner 

Needless to say, -I inserted the 
notice. 



RICHARD S. SHAVER 

A LIMOUSINE, driven by a 
noncommittal chauffeur, 
picked me up off a street co.mer, 
whisked me to the airfield, I 
boarded a plane piloted by a man 
I used to know as a fading stunt 
pilot— Harry Fredericks. The plane 
lifted and toolc a southerly course 
"wliich presently changed to an east- 
erly bearing. I looked below and 
saw we were over water. 

We came down somewhere in 
South America and I got out of 
the plane as mystified as Fd entered 
it. Secrecy? Fredericks wouldn't 
even discuss the weather! 

I had expected another Eden, 
hidden away from the world. But 
the land of brobdignags I found 
staggered me. Gra-sses, trying to be 
trees, and trees . . . 

There were no worcis for the big- 
ness, the health and vitality of Steg- 
ner afld the government bigwigs. 
who liad welcomed him here in 
South America. But Stegner hus- 
tled me aside Before I had time to 
do more -than goggle at the itiam- 
moth layout of this new Eden un- 
der ,. government . supervision. He 
took me to his house, a huge thing 
built with huge hands, big enough 
to accommodate a- -man ten feet 
tall! Yes. Stegner was a giant! 
Everybody in that fantastic Mde- 
am'ay was a giant. ■ ■ 

The second ioor of tlie house 
oi'erlookecl a great, wide valley. 
Stegner pointed one -great finger to 
the horizon and I looked. There 
was an endless fence out there. The 
same as in California, ' only naore 
so. The natives "of the valley, the 
Indies, the rancheros, the more in- 
telligent animals, were trying to get 



OF STEGNER'S FOLLY 

in to the wonders they saw beyond 
that fence. And some of them were 
dying against the killing electric 
charges in its wires. Through a pair 
of glasses the Prof handed me, I 
saw that some of the dead \'vere 
human. \ 

"That's murder!" I gasped. 

Stegiier's voice held the sadness 
of a great and sorrowful god. "I am 
in a. trap, my friend, I have pre- 
tended to. acquiesce, but my cohorts 
are not fully deluded as to my loy- 
alty to the thing they plan. These 
government men had gone mad 
with power. And the problem that 
now faces me seems insunnoiint- 
able. The peoples of this world are 
too small, morally, for so big a life. 
I fear chaos. I thought that per- 
haps you, with your native shrewd- 
ness, might help me unlock this 
prison I am in, reconcile, this Eden 
and its growth to the world that it 
must' eventually overrun. It will 
overrun the planet, but I would 
prefer it not to be hy violence as 
tliese mad men plan it. They have 
selfishly taken my gift to mankind 
to themselves, for their own ag- 
grandizement." 

I gulped. He thought I had the 
savvy to answer that one! "Hell, 
Prof. I thought you saw that from 
the first. I've often wondered when 
the blow-off would, come. I'm a 
newspaperman ; I know what goes 
_fln in tire world. It isn't ready for 
.such a life as you can give it — too 
much .selfishness. This thing has so 
many angles, so many ways it can 
give private groups power." 

"Then what can I do?" 

"As long as this 'is going' to be a 
fight, let's make it an even one, so 



93 

that the chips aren't all on one side 
of the table. Then maybe there'll 
be a balance of power, a stalemate 
— such as existed between Rusisia 
and the U. S. A. for so long." 

"You mean . . . ?" 

"I iBcan let me get the hell out 
of here in a hurry, with the detaih 
of your processes, and let me spread 
them all over the world. Publicity 
can lick this thing. Your mistake 
was in building fences. Put up a 
fence, and somebody'll bu.st it." 

"You are a wise man, my 
friend," he said. 

"Then I'm rnaling a run for it 
right no%v. They won't expect rne 
to be dashing off before I've even 
taken off my hat. Gi¥e ine 'your 
formulae, and show rne the hack 
door." 

"You can only leave by, plane . . ." 

"Okay, I can fly one:'' I had my 
own crate for several years until 
the finance co,mpany took it away 
from me. The airfield's right next 
to the house . . ." 

He gave me the papers. 

"What's in 'em?" I asked. 

"The formulae for the creation of 
th,e repellent anti-gravitational field 
which eliminates the age-factor ele- 
ment. I have been working on a 
growth inhibitor, but in secret. So 
I have had little time to develofj 
it. Briefly, it is a method of making- 
the field even more selective, leav- 
ing in the body tlio.'se elements 
%vliich have caused life to stop 
growing at adulthcwd, although it 
is not natural to stop growing. I 
am sure that any good scientist can 
finish my work. With this develop- 
ment, inaii can liave his cake and 
eat it too. He won't grow to giant- 



94 

ism as we are doing, yet his life 
and healtli will be prolonged." 

"Why not Just explain it to these 
men?" 

He laughed bitterly. "They wish 
to use their gigantic size to con- 
quer the world. Tliey can do it, too. 
Their minds ba¥e increased in 
power. Growth is that way. But 
moral values are something differ- 
ent—the)? are acquired by experi- 
ence. Find some moral men who 
might use this information to cir- 
cumvent what is about to happen." 

I took the papers and shook his 
gigantic hand. I left via the hack 
door, and sneaked through a clump 
of giant ferns to the edge of Ihe air- 
field, A little prowling revealed a 
parked plane, long unused because 
those who had flown it here had 
grown too Hg to use it. I waited, 
hidden in the lush greenery uiitil 
the setting sun would hide my 
movements. It would only be a few 
minutes now. . . 

The hangar in which the plane 
was parked contaifled several gaso- 
line drums, the kind wiA pumps on 
them that worked with a crank. 1 
got into the haagar, finally, and be- 
fore it got too dark to see, checked 
the plane's gas gauge. It was about 
a quarter full. 1 connected the gas 
hose and started pumping. In 
twenty minutes I had her full, then 
I climbed into the plane. . . 

When the motor caught, after I 
was sure it never would, the thun- 
der of the prop brought giants nin- 
ning toward me from the far end 
of the field, their twenty-foot 
strides eating up the distance. But 
I taxied straight toward them, giv- 
ing the plane's motors all they 



RICHARD S. SHAVER 

would take. The plane roared down 
the field, and they fell iat as the 
prop came at them. The plane 
lifted, spun over them, was off. 
Now slugs from oversize rifles came 
buzzing about me, cra-Aing through 
the fuselage. But it was dark and 
I was away. No serious damage had 
been done. 

In Texas it took me four hours to 
get the bras to Uste^ to me. Finally 
they did. They didn't ask me to 
keep my mouth shut. They jiut 
turned nie loose. I went to my edi- 
tor and told him the truth. He 
didn't believe nie. When he checked 
with tile amiy, they said I was ob- 
viously trying to perpetrate a hoax. 
I nearly got ired. 



MONTHS went by, and I 
waited. I knew I'd have to 
wait ■ until my chance came. 
There'd have to be hellfire before 
anybody'd beEeve my story, Theii 
the storm broke, in sensational 
headlines. "Gigantic beasts wipe 
out -town in South America." 

My editor sent for me. He 
showed me the headline. "Maybe 
I -made a mistake not believing 
■your story about Stegner," he said. 
'T make a lot 'of mistakes."' ^ ' 

"Yon want me to cover this?" I 
said. - ■-■ 

"That's it. And if you can coiiie 
up with proof of what you told- me 
when you got back from tliat crazy 
trip, I'll print every damned word." 



WHEN I GOT on the scene, 
I knew ■ they were at last 
takiflg it seriously. The locals had 



OF STEGNER'S FOLLY 

called out the army to fight the 
strange monsters that were coming 
out of the jungle. They were such 
things as army ants six feet long; 
aiiteaters looking like ambling loco- 
motives with hairy hides and 
noses; lumbering slotlis vast as a 
houses on legs, sleepy and comic as 
ever, but terrifyingly destructive; 
jaguars like trucks and trailers; 
centipedes with stingers over their 
backs that would reach a man in a 
third-story window; wasps and bees 
like buzzards. The army was lash- 
ing at these things with machine 
guns, flame throwers, tanks and 
rockets. Jeeps careened across the 
landscape with loads of ammo. It 
was a madhouse on a vast scale, 
and being fought to the death. 
They waited for the beasts to conie 
out of the jungle, then they jumped 
them — or were jumped. Nobody 
WAS allowed to fly into the hinter- 
land to see where they were com- 
ing from. And when I tried to get 
officials to consider it, they abso- 
lutely refused. Up there, it was 
hinted, were secret governiiieiit 
projects — besides they were too far 
away — and radio said there was no 
sign of anything unusual there. It 
%¥'d$ worth even a general's job to 
poke his nose in near those projects. 
And how could 1 tell these people 
traitorous men- of their oi^ii gov- 
ernment were the culprits? It just 
wasn't possible — and because I had 
to stay on the scene, 1 never even 
Jiinted it. I merely waited my 
chance to produce proof. I- knew 
I'd get it, sooner or later. Some- 
thing would come out of that jun- 
gle I'd be aUe to use to convey the 
real menace to the knowledge of 



95 

a puzzled %¥orld. 

I wrote carefully, reporting the 
weird war with the animal world — 
and I kept inserting paragraphs 
hinting about Stegner and his 
growth field, adding "rumors" that 
maybe his work had been taken 
over by a power-mad clique and it 
was they who were Icx>sing this 
horror. 

My ■ boss liked the stuff 1 was 
putting in, because it sold papers, 
and I was careful to keep my facts 
separate, and label my theories. 
Nobody — at least so it seemed — 
believed the theories, but they 
made good reading. I got a raise in 
salary. 

Otlier reporters were knocking 
out stories as good as mine, but 
without the insight into the facts 
that I had. So their stories went too 
far afield. Mine became popular, 
and were in demand as reprints all 
over the world. But officially, no- 
body paid any attention to nie, so 
the important papers nestled ^n the 
'bottorii of my trunk. I didn't want 
them confiscated until the time 
came when I could publish them 
with proof. My boss would back me 
up when that proof came. I wa-s 
sure of that. 

I got my chance the day the 
gianteas carne crashing out of the 
smoke and dust of the circle of 
horror acros.s which the beasts were 
constantly lunging. She was near 
naked, and half mad with pain 
from the giant insects plaquing her. 
No one fired on her as she .stood 
with uplifted arms, waiting for the 
soldiers to kill her as she expected. 
Beautiful as a goddess out of an an- 
cient myth she came forward to- 



96 

ward the soldiers, her face lighting 
with hope, her hair streaming 
golden in the sun. She spoke to us 
then, and the silence that came 
over the field of carnage was com- 
plete. 

"Look at me! Look at me and 
believe! There are others like me, 
back in the jungle; mad gianls who 
plan to 'conquer your world. They 
are ready to do it, I have escaped 
to warn you. They are mad, these 
giants my master has created. They 
are monsters. . ." 

1 recognized her now. My senses 
leaped and my blood pounded in 
my veins. Here was my opportunity 
to convince the world. This was 
Tilda, Stegner's maid! I snapped 
several pictures of her as she went 
on talking, 

"These men, who were once 
your own leaders are plotting ■ to 
destroy you and' take the world for 
themsekes. You do BOt know what 
they are preparing for you, but 1 
come J to tell you. Mate re£|dy,Tor 
they arc on their way to destroy 
you. They bring huge guB,s, mon- 
ster tanks that they lia.ve built, ma- 
chines never before seen on 
earth." 

What more she might have told 
we were never to know, for she fell 
then, at the end of her strength. 
Whatever she had dared, whatever 
she had gone through to break out 
of that monstrous circle and come 
to us, had been too much even 
for her giant's strength. She fell, 
like a tower crashing down, and 
lay there, a great lax pile of pink 
and red flesh, torn by tlioms, tlie 
claws of animals, the stingers of 
terrible giant insects. 



RICHARD S. SHAVER ' 

Then the monsters came again, 
an,d we could not go to her. She 
lay there as darkness came, and in 
the morning only her skeleton re- 
mained, stripped of flesh in the 
night hf the myriad devouring 
giant ants and beetles. 



MY STORY went in, with 
photos of Tilda. My editor 
printed the whole story, printed my 
formulae, printed every word of 
the history of Stegner and his crea- 
tions, and the secret menace he had 
unwittingly lc»sed on the world 
from his second hidden Eden In 
the jungle. I was called hom,e. 

They came to me then, those 
moral ones Stegner had said ex- 
isted.' Men 'high in government 
and army circles -who had the 
peace and welfare of the world at 
heart.' Selfless ones whose records 
were above reproach. And they 
pro'ved to be high in the powers of 
the world, able to command. 



I WENT back to South America, 
to my reporting. I wanted to 
be on hand -when the attack of 
whl,ch Tilda had warned became 
reality. 

I was some twelve miles from the 
deadly circle when ,the giant tanks 
appeared. They were larger than 
any moving thing ever seen on 
Earth before. Tracklayers, caterpil- 
lars — and swinging above them 
slender towers which bore ominous 
gleaming nozzles. On they carne. 

Then they struck at us. From the 
nozzles a cold brilliance leaped oiitj 
unnameablej that swept forward 



OF STEGNER'S FOLLY 

like a slow lightning, a kind of 
crackling sheet of cold fire that 
spread from tower to tower, in an 
arc that began to bend toward our 
lines. 

Tile fire came in rnile-widc 
swaths. There was no outcry, no 
teiTor — just the sweating lines of 
men in foxh,oles, the crews about 
the guns, lieaviiig amino into their 
maws : the rumbling trucks and the 
careening jeeps. The fire swept 
over all like liquid, radiance, like a 
pouring out of moonlight, soft but 
brilliant, mild yet deadly. Then it 
was gone. And when it had gone, 
nothing but silence remained. 
Dead nien stretched out where they 
•1! had lain waiting, fallen where 
they labored; jeeps careened on to 
crash into, stumps or bigger trucks 
—and stop forever. Only silence 
and death and nothingness was left. 

When the silence swept across 
the whole front I dropped my 
glasses and lit out for my own car, 
a,nd headed for the coast. I wanted 
to file this story in. person, and I 
knew, too, that army would not be 
th.ere in the moming. I. meant to 
stay alive. I knew that the hope for 
mankind lay in what honest men 
were doing witli Stegner's formu- 
lae. 1 had to know. So I fled. 

Next day they were dropping 
atom bombs on every moving thing 
in Stcgn,cr's ghastly Eden, High fly- 
ing bombers flew in swarms— -and 
many of them were being shot 
down by the weird fire. I saw those 
atom bombs falling, on television, 
anci the wMte radiance reaching up 
towartl, them. 1 saw it catch them 
in Its embrace, saw them explode 
harmlessly in ^|l.e air, midway in 



97 

in their plunge. Whatever the fire 
was, it was a defense against the 
atom bonib, for it exploded them 
befoi-e they could reach their 
targeLs. 

It didn't catch them all, and it 
didn't intercept all the high-flying 
bombers loosing their guided rocket 
mhssiles. It got eriough though, to 
sho%v' us we were on the losing 
end. What we needed wa.< a mir- 
acle. And tl'ie miracle did .occur. . , 

At first, even with my fingers on- 
every taf end of information that 
catiie out of the terrible area, it was 
an unrioticeable change. Then, I 
got it. The men .doing our fighting 
changed in caliber and ability. I 
never learned, due to the official 
habit of hashing everything up, 
jcLst who.se technology accom- 
plished the miracle, but it must 
have been .started from the first, 
mdth those army officers who had 
listened to me witli such lack of 
interest when I spoke before their 
inquisition at the Te.xas arm? air 
field. 

AH I learned was that there was 
a new kind of man busy at the 
front, a man of keener intellect, 
smdfter of action, infinitely more 
able than the former ordinary sol- 
dier. 

It was Jalie who first confirmed 
my suspicions. He brought in pho- 
tographs of men lifting ti'ucks out 
of mudhole.s, men tearing, steel 
cables apart with their bare hands, 
men jumping o%'er tweiity-fc»t bar- 
riers with full pack. "Whatta I do 
with that kind of pic? The people 
are so fed up with -the impos.sible 
news they are getting that they 
don't believe anything aay more! 



98 

But you and I know a news camera 
doesn't lie . . . it doesn't have' 
time!" 

They had put the Profs foriiitt- 
lae to work against the giants. This 
time it was the right formulae. 
They had growth \¥ithout increase 
ill size, a growth of ability, of 
strength, of mcBtality, wiiliout any 
increase ia ponderous structure. 
These new .soldiers were the police- 
men of tile United Nations made 
into supermen! 

I began to believe in the human 
race again. "Gfeat!" I said. "This 
is'wliat I've been waitiBg for!" 

Jake tossed me Ms pictures and 
went away. I turned to the type- 
writer and began batting out my 
story: "Mankind solves the prob- 
lem of giantism! The new weapon 
agaiii.^it the giants is — tfie new 
man!" 

Those little giants waded into 
tliat circle through all the deadly 
fire and the giant scorpions and 
vast beasts like Jack-the-Giant- 
Killer's multitudinous sons — and it 



RICHARD S. SHAVER 

wasn't a month later that I typed 
the last story of my life and gave 
up reporting for good. It was the 
tale of the death of the last giaat— 
and Jake's picture of him, armed 
ill the end 'wi til only his fists, liuge 
as a tree, mad with hunger and 
thirst and terrible fear of the little 
men who were just as mighty, a lot 
quicker, and every bit as smart as 
any giant. They routed liirn out 
with tear gas and shot Mm, down 
with plain old GI rifle fire. 

Yc-i, I gave up newspaper work. 
Why? They offered me a job mak- 
ing a movie out of the "War of the 
Giants". The job gave iiie quick 
money, which is what I needed.. 
The wife and I are starting a new 
colony on Malino Island. It's in the 
Garsliiias. We're going to try this 
growtli-witliout-size business out 
properly. 

Yes, that's my son. Eight months. 
He doestt't ordinarily go around 
dragging a piano — it just g«)t in his 
wsy. • ■ , 



-THE EKD- 



NEVER 



underestimate. . . 



Lefferts' madness could drive all women 
'back into slavery— it could even cost Lu- 
cinda a mink coat! 



; ' By Theodore Sturgeon 



SHE WAS^_ BRAZEN, 'of 
course," said Lucinda, pass- 
ing the marmalade, "but 
tJie brass was beautifully polished. 
The whole thing made me quite 
angry, though at the same time I 
m'as delighted." 

Meticulously Dr. Lefferts closed 
tile newly-arrived Journal of the 
Micro-biological Institute, placed 
it on the copy of Strength of Ma- 
terig.15 in Various Radioisotopic 
Alloys which lay beside his plate, 
and carefully removed his pince- 
nez. ''You begin in iriid-sequeiice," 
he said, picking up a butter-knife. 
"Your thought is a predicate witli- 
out a stated subject. Finally, your 
description of your reactions con- ^ 
tains parts which appear mutually 
exclusive." He attacked the mar- 



99 



malade. "Will you elucidate?" 

Lucinda lauglifd good-huinored- 
ly. "Of course, darling. Where 
would vou like me to begin?" 

"Oh . . ." Dr. LefFerts made a 
vague gesture, "Practically any- 
where. Anywhere at all. Simply 
supply more relative data in order 
that I may €.xtrapolate the entire 
episode and thereby dispose of it. 
Otlicrwise I shall certainly keep re- 
turning to it all day long.' Lucinda, 
why do yoii continually do this to 
me?" 

"Do, what, deax?" 

"Present me with colorful trivi- 
alities in just such amounts as will 
make me demand to hear you out. 
I have a trained inindj Lucinda ; a 
fine-honed, logical r»ind. It must 
think things through. You know 




J. ,.t tuitt ivui worth a lot of 
money—and worth a battle! 



NEVER UNDERESTIMATE 

that. Why do you continually do 
this to me?" 

"Because," said 'Lucinda placid- 
ly, "if I started at the beginning 
and went, right through to the end, 
yoii wouldn't listen." 

"I most certainly . . . eh. Per- 
haps you're right." He laid mar- 
malade on to an English muffin 
in three parallel bands, and began 
smoothing tliein together at right 
angles to their original lay. "You. 
are right, my dear. That must be 
rather difficult for you from time 
to time . . . yes?" 

"No iricjeecl," said Luciiida, and 
smiled. "Not as long as I can get 
your full attention when I want it. 
And I can." 

Dr. Lefferts chewed her state- 
ment with his muffin. At last he 
said, "I admit that in your in- 
imitable — iih — I think ^'one calLs it 
female way, you can. At least in 
regard to small is.«5ue.<j. Now do me 
the kindness to explain to me what 
stimuli could cau.se you to — " Hi.s 
voice supplied the punctuation — 
"feel 'quite angry* and 'delighted' 
sirnnltaneously." 

Lucinda leaned forward to pour 
fresh cofTee into his cooling cup. 
She was an ample woman, with an 
almost tailored combination of 
.sveltness. and relaxation. Her voice 
was like sofa-pillows and her eyes 
like blued siteel. "It was on the 
Boulevard," she said. "I was wait- 
ing to cross when this girl drove 
tlirough a red light right under the 
nose of a policeman. It was like 
watching a magazine illustratjon 
come to life — the bright-yellow 
con¥ertible and the blaziag blon4e 
in the bright-yellow dress . . . dar- 



101 

ling, I do think you should call in 
this year's bra manufacturers for 
consultation in your Anti-Gravity 
Research Division. They achieve 
the most baffling effects . . . any- 
way, there she was and there by 
the car was the traffic-cop, as red- 
faced and Hibernian a piece of 
type-casting as you could wish. He 
came blustering over to her de- 
maoding to kiiow begorry — ^I think 

he actually did say begorry- -was 

she color-blind, now, or did she 
perhaps not give a care this 
marniii r 

"In albinos," said Dr. Lefferts, 
"color perception is — " 



LUCINDA raised her smooth 
voice just sufficiently to over- 
ride him without a break in con- 
tinuity. "Now, here was an arrant 
violation of the law, flagrantly 
committed under the eyes of an en- 
forcement officer. I don't have to 
tell you what should have hap- 
pened. What did happen was that 
the girl kept her head turned away 
from him until his hands were on 
the car door. In the sun that hair 
of hers was positively dazzling. 
When he was close enough — within 
range, that i.s — ^.she tossed her hair 
back and wa.? face to face with him. 
You could sec that great lump of 
bog-peat turn, to putty. And she 
said to him (and if I'd had a mu- 
sical notebook with me I could 
have ' jotted down her voice in 
sharps and flats) — she said, 'Why, 
officer, I did it on purpose just so I 
could see you up close.' " 

Dr. Lefferts rfiade a .slight, dis- 
gusted sound. "He arrested her." 



102 

"He did not," said Lucinda. "He ^ 
shook a big thick foreinger at her 
Ss if she were a naughty but be- 
lo¥ed child, and tlie push-button 
blarney that oozed out of him was 
as easy to see as the wink he gave 
her. That's what made me mad." 

"And well it should." He folded 
his napklD. "Violations of the law 
should be inimediately pun — " 

"The law had little to do witli 
it," Lucinda said warmly. "I was 
angry because I know what would 
have happened to you or to mc in 
that same situation. We're just not 
equipped." 

"I begin to see." He put his 
pince-nez back on and peered at 
her, "And what was it that de- 
lighted you?" 

She stretched easily and half- 
closed her eyes. "The — what you 
have called the femaleness of it. 
It's good to be a woman, darling, 
and to watch another woman be 
female skillfully." 

"I quarrel with your use of the 
term 'skillfuJly/ "' h,e said, folding 
Ms napkio. "Her 'skill' is. analogous 
to • an odor of musk or other such 
exudation in the lower animals." 

"It Is not;' she said flatly, "With 
the lower animals, bait of that kind 
meaii.5 one thing and one thing 
only, complete and final. With a 
woman, it means nothing, of the 
kind. Never mind what it might 
mean; consider what it does mean. 
Do you think for a moment that 
the blonde in the convertible was 
making herself available to the p6- 
liceman?" 

"She was hypothesizing a situa- 
tion in which-' ■" ' 

"She was hypothesizing notHn,g 



THEODORE STURGEON 

of the kind. She was blatantly and 
brazenly getting out of paying a 
traffic fine, and that was absolutely 
all. And you can carry it one step 
furtlier; do you think that for one 
split second the policeman actually 
believed that she was in¥iting him? 
Of course he didn't! And yet that 
situation is one that has obtained 
through the ages. WomeB have al- 
ways been able to get what they 
wanted from men by pretending to 
promise a thing which they know 
men want but will not or cannot 
take. Mind you, Tm not talking 
about situations %vhcrc this yielding^ 
is the main issue. I'm talking about 
the iniinitely greater number of oc- 
casions where yielding has nothing 
to do mdth it. Like weaseling out of 
traffic tickets." 

"Or skillfully gainiBg your hip- 
band's reluctant attention' over the 
breakfast table." 

Her sudden laughter was like a 
shom'cr of sparks. "You'd better get 
down to the Institute," she said, 
"You'll be late." 

He arose, picked up .his book and ' 
pamphlet, and walked .slowly to the 
dcwr. Lucinda came with him, 
hooking her anri through his. Sud« 
denly he stopped, and without look- 
ing at her, asked quietly, "That po" 
Hceman was a manipulated, uadig- 
nified fooh wasn't he?" 

"Of course he was, darling, and 
it made a man of him." 

He nodded as if accepting a 
statistic, and, kissing her, walked 
out^ of the house. 

Darling, she thought, dear sweet 
chrome-plated, fme-dmwn, high- 
polis-hed blue-print ... I think I've 
found where you keep four oanitf. 



„NEVER UNDERESTIMATE 

She watched him walk witli his 
even, efficient, unhurried stride to 
the gate. There lie paused and 
Icxjked back. 

"This has been going on too 
long," he called. "I shall alter it." 

Liicinda stopped smiling. 



MAY I come in?" 
"Jenny, of course." Lu- 

cinda went to the kitchen door and 

■iinliooked it. "Gome in, come in. 

My, you're prettier than ever this 

morning." 

"I brought yoii violets," said 

Jenny breathlessly. "Just scads of 

'em in the woods behind my place. 

You took your red curtairu down. 

Is that a new apron? My! y«u had 

Canadian bacon for breakfast." 

She darted in past Lucinda, 'a 
small, wiiy, vibrant girl with sun- 
lit hair and moonlit eyes. "Can I 

help with the dishes?" 

"Thanl you, you, doll" Lucinda 
took down a shallow gk.s bowl for 
the violets, 

Jenny busily ran hot water into 
the sink. '"I couldn't help seeing" 
she said. "Your big picture win- 
dow . . . Lucinda, you never leave 
the brealifasf dishes. I' keep telling 
Bob, sonm day I'll have the 
routines you have, e¥erythirig al- 
ways 50 aeat, never running out of 
anything, never in a hurry, never 
surprised . . . anyway, all the way 
^over I could see you just sitting by 
the table tli€a:e, and the dishes not 
doae and all . . . is everything all 
right? I mean, don't tell me if I 
shouldn't ask, but I couldn't- 
help , . ," Her %'oice trailed off into 
an ardent and respectful muiiiHe. 



103 

"You're such a sweetheart," Lu- 
cinda said mistily. She came over 
to the siak caiTying clean disli- 
towels and stood holding them, 
staring out past Jenny's head to the 
level iawns of the village. "Actual- 
ly, I did have something on my 
mind . . . something . . ." 

She related the vAole conversa- 
tion over breaMast that morning, 
from her abrupt and partial men- 
tioning of the anecdote about the 
blonde and tile policeman, to her 
husband's extraordinary and- un- 
equivocal statement about women's 
po%¥er over men: This has been go- 
ing on. too long. I shall alter it. 

"Is that aU?" Jenny asked when 
she had finished. 

"Mm. It's all that was said." ' 

"Oh, I don't think you shcwlcl 
v,'orry about that." She crinkled up 
her eyes, and Lucinda understood 
that she was putting herself and her 
young husband in the place of Lu- 
cinda ancl Dr. Lefferts, and trying 
to empathize a solution. "I think 
you might have hurt his feelings a 
little, maybe," Jenny said at length. 
"I mean, you admitted that you 
handled him in- much the same way 
as that blonde handled the police- 
' man, and then you said the po- 
liceman was a fool."' 
■ Lticintk sixiiled. "Very shrewd. 
And what'.s your guess about that 
parting shot?" 

Jenny turned to face her. 
"You're not teasing nrie, asking my 
opinion, Lucinda? I never thought 
I'd see the day! Not you— 'you're 
so wise!" 

Lucinda patted her shoulder. 
"The older I get, the more 1 feel 
that 'among woii'ien there is alow- 



104 

est common denominator of wis- 
dom, and that the chief difference 
between them is a random scatter- 
ing of blind spots. No, honey, I'm 
not teasing you. You may be able 
to see just where I can't. Now tell 
iiic: what do you think he meant 
by that?" 

" 'I shall alter it', Jenny quoted 
thoughtfully. "Oh, I d.on't think 
he meant anything uracil. You 
showed him how you could make 
liiin do things, and he didn't like it. 
He's, decided not to let you do it 
any more, but — but . . ." 

"But what?" 

"Well, it's like witli Bob. When 
he gets masterful and lays tlowii the 
law I just agree with him. He for- 
gets aijoiit it soon enough. If you 
agi«c with men all the time they 
can't get stubborn ahout anything."— 

Lucinda laughed aloud. "There's 
the wisdom!" she cried. Sobering, 
slie shook her head. "Yo'ii don't 
linow the doctor the way I do. He's 
a great man — a truly great one, 
with a great mind. It's great in a 
way no other mind hai$ ever been. 
He's-— difl'erent. Jenny, I know how 
people talk, and what a lot of them 
say. People woocler why I married 
hiin, why P¥e stayed with him all 
these years. They say he's istuffy 
and didactic and that he has no 
sense of humor. Well, to them he 
may be ; but to me ht Is a continual 
challenge. The rules-of -thumb that 
keep, most men in line don* I 'apply 
to him. 

"And if he says he can do some- 
thing, he can. If he says he will do 
som,etlung, he ivill." 

Jenny dried her hands and sat 
dowB slowly. "He meant," she said 



THEODORE STURGEON 

positively, "that he would alter 
your ability to make him do things. 
Because tlte oaly other thing he 
could have meant was that he was 
going to alter tlie thing that make.s 
it possible for any woman to han- 
dle any man. And that just 
couldn't be. How could he change 
human nature?" 

"How? Howl' He's the scienti.st. 
I'm not. I simply eUminate that* 
'how' from my thinking. The worri- 
.some thing about it is that he 
doesn't think in small ways about 
.small issues. Fm afraid that's just 
what he meant — that he was going 
to change some factor in humanity 
that is responsible for this power 
we have over men." 

"Oh . . . really," said Jenny. She 
looked up at Lucinda, moved her 
hands unca.sily. "Lucinda, I know 
how great the doctor is, and how 
much you thiiili of him, but — but 
no one man could do such a. thing! 
Not ousicle of his own home." She 
grinned fleetingly. "Probably .not 
inside of it, for very long ... I 
never understood just wliat sort of 
a scientist he is. Can you tell me, I 
mean, a.side from any secret proj-' 
ects he might be on? Like Bob, 
now; Bob's a high-temperatiire 
metallurgist. What is Ae doctor, 
exactly?" 

"That's the right question to 
ask," Lucinda. said, and her voice 
was shadowed. "Dr. Lefferts is a— 
well, the closest you could get to it 
would be to call him a specializing 
noii-specialist. You see, science has 
reached thfe |»int ■ where each 
branch of it continually branches 
into specialties, and each specialty 
lias its own crop of experts. Most 



NEVER UNDERESTIMATE 

experts live in the confines of their 
own work. The doctor was saving 
just the other day that he'd dis- 
covered a fluorine-boron step-reac- 
tion in mineralogy that had been 
known for so long that the miner- 
alogists had forgotten about it- 
yet it was unknown to metallurgy. 
Just as I said a moment ago, his 
mind is great, and— different. His 
job is to draw together the chem- 
ists and the biologists, the pure 
mathematicians and the practical 
physicists, the clinical psychologists 
and the engineers and all the otlier 
-ists and -ologies. His specialty is 
scientific thought as applied to all 
the sciences. He has no assignments 
except to survey all the fields ant! 
transfer Beeded information from 
one to the other. There 'has never 
been such a position in the Institute, 
before, aor a man to fill it. And 
there is no other institute like this 
one on earth. 

"He has entree into every shop 
and lab and library in this Insti- 
tute. He cao do anything- or get 
anything done in any of them. 

"And when he said 'I shall alter 
that* he meant what he said!" 

"I never knew thatis what he 
did," breathed Jenny. "I never 
knew that's what . .-. who he is." 

"That's who he is." 

"But what can he change?" 
Jenny burst out. "What can he 
change in us, in all men, in all 
women? What is 'the power he's 
talking about, and where does it 
come from, and what would . . . 
will . . . happen if it's changed?" 

"I don't know," Lucinda said 
thoughtfully, 'T— do— not— know. 
The blonde in the convertible . . . 



lis 

that mit of thing is Just one of the 
things a woman naturally does, be- 
*cause she is a woman, without 
thinldiig of it." 

Unexpectedly, Jenny giggled. 
"Ygu doa't plan those things. y»u 
just do them. It's nice when if 
works. A better roast from 'the 
butcher. A reminder from one of 
the men at the bank that a check's 
overdram'ii, in time to cover it." 

"I know," smiled Lucinda, "I 
know. It's easy and Inaccurate to 
say that all those men are on the 
prowl- — or all those women either. 
A few are, but most are not. The 
willingness of men to do things for 
women 'has surviFcd even equal op- 
portunity and equal pay for wom- 
en. The ability of women to get 
what they want from men Mes com- 
pletely in their knowledge of that 
willingness. So the thing iiiy^ hus- 
band wants to alter— a?»ll alter-— 
lies in that department." 

"Lucinda, why don't you just ask 
hirn?" ■ 

"I .shall. But 1 don't know if Til 
get an answer. If he regards it as a 
security matter, nothing %vill get it 
out of him." 

"You'll tell me, won't you?" ' 

"Jenny, my sweet, if he tells me 
nothing, I can't tell you. If :he tells 
me and asks me to keep his con- 
fidence, I won't tell you. If he tells 
me and puts no restrictions on it, 
I'll tell you everything." 

"But--^" 

"I know, dear. You're thinking 
that it's a bigger thing than just 
what it might mean to the t%vo of 
us. Well, you're right. But down 
deep I'm coiifidenfc I'd pit few 
women' against most men aaci ex- 



106 

pect them to win out. But anytime 
all womankind is against all man- 
kind, the men don't stand a chance. 
Think hard about it, anpvay. At 
least we should be able to figpre 
out where the attack is coming 
from." 

"At least you admit It's an at- 
tack." 

"You bet your sweet life it's an 
attack. There's been a woman be- -^ 
hind most tlirones all through his- 
tory. The few times that hasn't 
been true, it's taken a woman to 
clean up the mess afterward. We 
won't give up easily, darling!" 

THE NORTH wind doth 
blow, and we shall have 
snow', and so on," said Lucinda 
as she lit the fire. "I'm going to. 
need a new coat." 

"Very well," said Dr. Lefferts. ' 

"A fur coat this time." 

"Fur coats," pronouncecl the 
doctor, "are impractical. Get one 
TOtli the fur inside. You'll licep 
warmer with less to carry." 

"I want a fur coat with the fur 
outside, where it shows." 

"I understand and at times ad- 
mire the decorative compulsions," 
said the doctor, rising from, the ad- 
justed cube- he used for an easy 
chair, "but not when they are un- 
healthy, uneconomical, and ineffi- 
cient. My dear, vanity does not be- 
come you." 

"A thing that has always fasci- 
nated me)' said Lucinda in a 
dangerously quiet voice, "in rab- 
bits, weasels, skuoks, pumas, pan- 
das, and mink, and all other known 
mammals and marsupials, is their 



THEODORE STURGEON - 

huge vanity. They all wear theif , 
fur outside." ' ' ■: 

He put on his pince-nez to stare 
at her. "Your logic limits its fac- ■ 
tors. I find such sequences remark- ; 
able because; of the end results one 
may obtain. However, I shall not ■ 
follow this one." » 

"If you're so preoccupied with 
efficiency and ■' function," she ; 
snapped, "why do you insist on : 
wearing those pince-nez instead of 
getting corneal lenses?" 

"Functional living Is a pattern • 
m'hich includes all predictable 
pheiioniena," he said reasonably. 
"One of these is habit. I recognize 
that I shall continue to like pince- 
nez as much as I shall continue to 
di.slike rice pudding. My fimction- 
alism therefore includes these' 
glasses and excludes that particular 
comestible. If you had the fur-coat 
habit, the possibility of a fur coat 
would be calculable. Since yom - ■ 
have never had such a coat, we' can. 
coHsider the matter disposed of." 
"I thini some factors were se- 
lected for that secpcBce," said Lu- 
cinda between her teeth, "but I 
can't seem to put my finger on the 
missing ones." , 

"I beg your pardon?" 
"I said," appended Lucinda dis« 
tincdy, "that speaking ofdactors, .1 
wonder how you're coining with 
your adjustment of humaH nature 
to eliminate the deadliness 'of the 
female." 

"Oh, that. I expect results mo- 
. mentarily." 

"Why bother?" she said bitterly. 
"My powers don't seem to be good 
enough for a fur coat as it is." 
"Oh," he said mildly, "were -you 



NEVER UNDERESTIMATE 

using tliem?" 

Because she was Lucinda, she 
laughed. "No, darling, I wasn't" 
She went to him and pressed him 
back into the big cubical chair and 
sat on the arm. "I was dernandingj 
cynical, and unpleasant. These 
things in a woman represent the 
scorchecl earth fctreat ratlier than 
the looting advance." 

"An excellent analogy," he said. 
"Excellent. It has been a long and 
bitter war, hasn't it? And now it's 
coming to an end. It is an extraor* 
dinary thing that in, our difficult 
progress toward the elimination, of 
wars, we have until now ignored 
the greatest and most peroicious 
coniict of all— the one between tlie 
sexes." 

■ ■ "Why so pernicious?" she chuck- 
led. "There are times when it's 
rather fun." 

He said solemnly, "There are 
moments of exhilaration, even of 
glory, in every great conflict. But 
such conflicts tear dowB so much 
more than tliey build." 

"What's been so damaging about 
the war between the i^xes?" 

"Tliough it has been tlie mfomen 
who made men, it ha.? been largely 
nieti who have made the world as 
we know it. However, they have 
had to do so against a truly terrible 
obstacle: . the emotional climate 
created by women. Only by becoin- 
iitg an ascetic can a man -avoid tiie 
oscillations between intoxication 
and distrust instilled into him by 
women. And ascetics usually are al- 
■ ready insane or .rapidly become so." 
"I think you're overstating a 
natural state of affairs." 

"I am overstating," he admitted, 



107 

"for clarity's sake, and ofi" the rec- 
ord. However, this great war is by 
no means natural. On the contrary, 
it is a most unnatural state of af- 
fairs. You -see, homo sapiens is, in 
one small but Important respect, an 
atypical mamiiial," 
"Do tell." 

He raised Ms eyebrows, but coii- 
tinited. "In virtually all species but 
ours, tlie female ha.-! a rigidly fi.xed 
cfcle of conjugal acceptability." 
"But tile human female has a — " 
"I atii not reff!!Ting to that lunar 
cycle, unmentionable everywhere 
except in blatant magazine adver- 
tisements," he said shortly, "but to 
a cycle of desire. Of rut." 

"A pretty word." Her eyes began 
to glitter. 

"Mahomet tatiglit that it oc- 
curred every eight days, Zoroaster 
oine days, Socrat&s and Soloti 
agreed on ten. Everyone elp;, as far 
as I can discover, seems to disagree 
m'ith these pundits, or to ignore the 
matter. Actually there are such 
cycles, but tliey are subtle at best, 
and differ in the individual from 
time to time, with age, physical ex- 
perience, geograpliy, and even emo- 
tional state. These cycles are vestig- 
ial; the original, ■natural cycle 
disappeared early in the history 'of 
the species, and has been trembling 
on the verge ever since. It tvill be 
a simple matter to bring it back." 
"May I ask how?" 
"You may not. It is a security 
matter." 

"May I then ask ■wh,at effect yon 

expect this development to have?" 

"Obvious, isn't it? The source of 

woman's persistent and effective 

control over^irian, the thing •that 



108 

makes him subject to all her In- 
tolerances, whims, and bewildering 
coyaess, is the simple ■ fact of her 
perennial availability. She has no 
regular and predictable cycle of de- 
sire. The lower animals have. Dur- 
ing the brief time that a female 
mouse, a marten, or a mare is ap- 
proachable, every iiiale of her 
species In the vicinity will know of 
it and seek her out; will, in effect, 
drop everything to answer a basic 
call. But 'Unless and until that call 
occurs, tile male is free to think ■ of 
other things. With the hitman fe- 
male, on the other hand, the call is 
mildly present at all times, and the 
male is never completely free to 
think of other things. It is natural 
for this drive to be strong. It is un- 
natural indeed for it to be constant. 
In this respect Freud was quite cor- 
rect; nearly every neurosis has a 
sexual Ijasis. We are a race of neu- 
rotics, and the great wonder is that 
we have retained any of the ele- 
ments of sanity at all. I shall liber- 
ate humanity from this curse. I 
shall restore the natural alterna- 
tion.*; of drive and rest. I shall free 
men to think and women to take 
their rightful places as thinking in- 
dividuals beside them, rather than 
be tile forced-draft furnaees of sex- 
ual heat they have become." 

"Are you telling me," sajd Lu- 
ciiicla in a small, shocked voice, 
"that you have found a way to — • 
to neuterize women except for ^ a 
few hours a month:?" 

"I am and I have," said Dr. Lef- 
ferts. "And incidentally, I must say 
I am grateful to you for having 
tiirned me to this problem." ■ He 
looked up .sharply. "Where are you 



THEODORE STURGEON 

going, my dear?" 

"IVe got to th"tHrik,*' said Lu- 
cinda, and ran from the room. If 
she had .stayed 'there for another 
fifteen seconds, she knew she would 
have crushed his skull in with the 
poker. 



WHO--43h, Lucinda! How 
nice. Come in . . . why, - 
what's the matter?" 

"Jenny, I've got to talk to you. 
Is Bob home?" 

"No. He's got night duty at the 
high temperature lab this week. 
Whatever is wrong?" 

"It's the end' of the world," said 
Lucinda in real anguish. She anlc 
down on the sofa and looked up at 
the younger woman. "My husband 
is putting a — a chastity belt on 
every woman on earth." 

"A what?" 

"A chastity belt." She began to. 
laugh hysterically. "With a time- 
lock on it." 

Jenny sat beside her. "Don't," 
she said. "Don't laugh like that. 
You're frighteoing iiie." 

Lucinda lay baek, gasping. "You 
should be frightened . . . Listen to 
me, Jenny. Listen carefully, because 
this is the biggest tiling that .has 
happened since the deluge." She 
began to talk. 

Five minutes later Jenny asked 
dazedly, "You mean, ^ 4f this crazy 
thing happens Bob won't . . . won't 
want me most of the time?" 

"It's you who won't do .any waot- 
ing. And when you don't, he %won't 
want either. ... It Isn't that that 
bothers me so much, Jenny, now 
that I've had a chance to think 



NEVER UNDERESTIMATE 

about it. Fill worried about the 
revolution." 

"What revolution?" 

"Why, this is going to cause the 
greatest social upheaval of all time ! 
Once these cycles become recog- 
nized for what tliey are, there will 
lie fireworks. Look at the way we 
dress, the way we use cosmetics. 
Why do we do it? Basically, t© ap- 
pear to be available to men. Prac- 
tically all perfumes ha¥e a musk 
or musk-like base for that verf rea- 
son. But liow long do you think 
women will keep up the hypocrisy 
of lipstick and plunging necklines 
when men know better — know that 
they couldn't possibly be approach- 
able •all tlic time? How many men 
will let their women appear in pub- • 
tic lookiog as if they were?" 

"They'll tie us up in the house 
the way I do Mitzi-poodle," said 
Jenny in an awed tone. 

"They'll leave us smugly alone 
with easy minds for three weeks out 
of four," said Lucinda, "and stand 
guard o¥er us like bull elks the rest 
of the time, to keep other men 
away." ' ■ 

"LuciBcIa!" Jenny squeaked and 
covered her face Id horror. "What 
about 0ther woinen? How can, we 
compete ■ with, another woman 
when she's— she's— and we're not?" 

"Especially wlieii men are con- 
ditioned the way they are. Women 
will want to stie'k to one man, more 
likely than not. But men— men, 
building up pressures for weeks on 
end . . ." 

"There'll be harems again," said 
Jenny. 

"This IS the absolute, final, bitter 
end of any power we ever liacl o¥er 



10f 

the beasts, Jenoy— do yoti see that? 
All the old tricks— the arch half- 
promise, the come-oo, the manipu- 
lations of jealousy— they'll he utter- 
ly meaningless! The whole arsenal 
o,f wo,ma!:i,kind is based on lier 
ability to )ielcl or not to yield. And 
my husband is going to take the 
choice a\%«y froiii us. He's going to 
make it alxoliitely certain that at 
one time we can't yield, and at an- 
other we must!" 

"And the/U aever have to be 
nice to us at either time/* added 
Jenny miserably. 

"Women," said Lucinda bitterly, 
"are going to have to work for a 
living." 

"But we do!" 

"Oh, you know 'what I mean, 
Jenny! The lit-tul wife in the lit-tul 
home . . . that whole concept iis 
based on women's perpetual avail- 
ability. We're not going to be able 
to b^ home-makers, in that sense, at 
monthly intefvals." 

Jenny jumped up. Her face was 
clialky. "He hasn't stopped any 
war," she ground out. Lucinda had 
never seen her like this. "He's 
started one, and it's a beaut. Lucin- 
da, he'.s got to be stopped, even if 
y0u. — -we have to . . ." 

"Gome on." 

They started for Dr. Lefferts' 
house, striding along .like a couple 
of avenging angels. 



AH," SAID DR. LEFFERTS, 
riling politely. "You brought 
Jenny, Good evening, Jenny." 

Lucinda planted herself in front 
of Mm and put her haflcis on h.er 
hips. "You listen to me," she 



110 

growled. "You've got to stop that 
nonsense about changing women." 
"It is not nonsense and I shall 
do nothing of the kind." 

"Dr. Lefferts." said Jenny in a 
quakiflg voice, "can you really do 
this- — this awful thing?" 

"Of course," aid the doctor. "It 
was quite simple, once the princi- 
ples were worked out." 

"It was quite simple? You mean 
foii've already — " 

Dr. lefferts looked at Ms watch. 
"At two o'clock this aftemooB. 
Seven hours ago." 

"I think," said Lucinda quietly, 
"that you had better tell us just ex- 
actly what you did, and what we 
can expect." 

"I told you it is a security mat- 
ter." 

"What has my libido to do with 
national defense?" 

"That," .said the doctor, in a tone 
which referred to that as the merest 
trifle, "is a side issue. I coincided 
it with a much more serious proj- 
ect." 

"What could be more serious 
than . . ." 

"There's only one thing that 
serious, from a security stand- 
point," said Lucinda. She turned 
to the doctor. "I know better than 
to ask you any direct questions. But 
if I as!iume that this horrible thing 
was doHe in conjunction with a 
super-bomb test — just a guess, you 
understand — is there any way for 
an H-Uast to bring about a chan,ge 
in women such as you describe?" 

He clasped both hands around 
one knee arid looked up at her in 
genuine admiration. "BrilMant," he 
said. "And most skilfully phrased. 



. THEODORE STURGEON 

Speaking hypothetically — hypothet- 
ically, you understaBci," he iiitei- 
jectecl, waving a \%'ariiing finger, ".! 
hydrogen bomb has an im.men.«:i' 
power of diffusion. A jet of energy 
of thst size, at that temperature, fcu- 
even three or four niicro.«coiids, k 
capable of penetrating the upper 
reaches of the stratosphere. But the 
effect does not end tiiere. The up- 
ward displacement causes great . 
volumes of air to rush in toward 
the rising column from all sides. 
This in turn is carried upward and 
replaced, a process which continues 
for a considerable time. One of the 
resuhs must ^be the imbalance of 
any distinct high or low pressure 
areas %yithiii several thousand miles, 
and for a day or two freak weather 
developments can be observed. In 
other words, these prijiiary and 
secondary effects are capable of dif- 
hisiiig a — ah — substance placed in 
the bomb throughout the upper at-' 
inosphere, where, in a matter of 
days, it will be diffused throughout 
the entire envelope." 

Lucinda clasped her hands in a 
slow, controlled way, as if one of 
them planned to immobilize the 
other and thereby keep both oc- 
cupied. 

"And is there any substance . . . 
Firi' still asking hypothetical t|«es- 
tions, you understand — is there 
anything which could be added to 
the hydrogen fusion reaction which 
■ might bring about these. — these 
new cycles in women?" 

"They are not new cycles," said 
the doctor flatly. "They are as old 
^as the development of warm- 
blooded animals, Tlie hick of them 
is, in- biological terms, ^ very recent 



NEVER UNDERESTIMATE 

development in an atypical mam- 
mal; so recent and so small tliat it 
is subject to adjustment. As to your' 
hypothetical question — " he smiled 
—"I should judge that such an ef- 
fect is perfectly possible. WitMn the 
extremes of temperature, pressure, 
and radiation whlcli take place in a 
fusion reaction, many tilings are 
possible. A iiiiiiute quantity of cer- 
tain alloys, for example, introduced 
into the shell of the bonib itself, or 
perhaps in die structure of a sup- 
porting tower or CYeii a nearby 
teniporary sheclj might khy a, num- 
ber of phenomenal reaction chains. 
Such a chain miglit go tlirougli 
several phases and result in certain 
subtle isotopic alterations in one of 
the atmosphere's otherwise inert 
gases, say xenon. And tliis isotope, 
acting upon the adrenal cortex and 
the parathyroid, which are instru- 
mental in controlling certain cycles 
in the human body, iniglit very 
readily bring a'bout the effect %ve 
are discussing in an atypical 
species." 

Lucinda threw up Iier haiid.s aocl 
turned to Jenny. "Then that's it," 
she said wearily. 

"What's 'it'? What? I don't 
understand/* wHoipered Jenny. 
"What's he done, Lucinda?" 

"In his nasty, cold-blooded hypo- 
thetical way/' said Lucinda, "he 
has put something in or near an 
H-bomb . which, was tested today, 
wHcli is going to have some effect 
on tlie air we breatlie, whicli is 
going to do what, we were discuss- 
ing at your house." 

"Dr. Leffcits/' said Jenny pite- 
ously. She went to liim, stood tool- 
ing down at Mm as he sat primly in 



111 

his big easy chair. "Why — why? 
Jugt to annoy us? Just to keep us 
from having a little, petty influence 
over you?" 

"By nO' means/' said, th,e doctor. 
"I will admit tliat I might have 
turned m,y attention to tixe matter 
for such reasons. But some coiicen- 
tratecl thought brought up a num- 
ber of cxtra-polations which are by 
no meaiB petty." 



HE lOSE and stood by the 
mantel, pince-nez in lia,odj tlie 
perfect picture of the Pedant At 
Home. "Consider/' lie said. "Homo 
sapiens, in terms of comparative 
anatomy, slioiild mature physically 
at 35 and emotionally between 30 
and 40. He should have a life ex- 
pectancy of between 150 and 2CX} 
years. And he iincjuestioiiably 
should be able to M\'e a life un- 
cluttered by .?iich iiisi,stent trifles as 
clotJiing conventions, unfunctional 
chivalries, psychic turmoils and 
dangerous mental and phy.«cal es- 
capes into what the psychologists 
call romances. Women should 
phase their sexual cycles with tliose 
of the seasons, gestate their young 
longer, and eliminate ttie unpre- 
dictable nature o,f their psycho- 
sexual appetites— the very ba.iis of 
all their insecurity and therefore 
that of most men. Women will not' 
be chained to these cycles, Jenny, 
and become breeding macliines. if 
that's what yoii fear. You will be- 
gin to liye in and with tMese cycles 
as you, live with a well-made and 
serviced automatic machine. Yom 
will be liberated from the constant 
control and direction of your lo- 



112 

matic existence as you have been 
liberated from shifting gears ^ in 
your car." 

"But . . . we're not conditioned 
for such a change!" blazed Lucin- 
da. "And what of the fashion in- 
dustry . . . cosmetics . . . the en- 
tertainment world . . . what's go- 
ing to become of these and the 
millions of people employed by 
tliem, and the people dependent ^on 
all those people^ if you do a thing 
tike this?" 

"The thing is done. As for these 
people . . ." He paused. "Yes, there 
will be some disturbance. A con- 
siderable cjiie. But in overall his- 
torical terms, it will be slight and it 
%¥ill be brief. I like to think that the 
television service man is one ivho 
was liberated by the cotton gin and 
the power loom/' 

"It's . . . hard to think in his- 
torical terms just now," said Lu- 
cinda. "Jenny, come on." 
' "Where are you going?" 

She faced him, her blued-steel 
eyes blazing. "Away from you. And 
I — I think I have -a warning to give 
to the women." 

"I wouldn't do that," he said 
dryly. "They'll find out in time. All 
you'll succeed in doing is to alert 
many women to the fact that they 
will be unattracti¥e to their hus- 
bands at times when other women 
may seem more desirable. Women 
will not unite with one another, my 
dear, even to unite against men." 

There was a tense paiise. Then 
Jenny qtiavered, "How long did 
you say this — this thi|ig will take?" 
"I did not say. I would judge be- 
tween thirty-sk and , forty-eight 
hours." 



THEODORE STURGEON ' 

"I've got to get home." 

"May I come with you?" asked 
Lucinda. 

Jenny looked at her, her full face, 
her ample, controlled body. A stir- 
prising series of emotions chased 
themseh'es across her young face. 
She said, "I don't think ... I mean 
... no, not tonight; I have to — to— : 
goodnight, Lucinda." 
' When she had gone, the doctor 
uttered one of his rare chuckles. 
"She has absorbed perhaps a tenth 
of this whole concept," he said, 
"but until she's surer of herself she's 
not going to let you or any woman 
near her husband." 

"You, ^. . . you complacent pig!" 
said Lucinda whitcly. She stormed 
upstairs. 



hclk 
Tni' 



^ Jenny?" 
■ glad you 



HELLO . . 
"Lucinda! 
called." 

Somctliing cold and tense deep 
inside Lucinda relaxed. She sat 
down^ slowly on the couch, leaned 
back comfortably with the tele- 
phone cradled between her cheek 
and her* wide soft shoulder. "I'm 
glad you're glad, Jcmny darhng. It's 
been six wcek-s . . . how are you?" 

"I'm ... all riglit now. "It was 
pretty awful, for a while, not know- 
ing how it would be, waiting for it 
to happen. And when it did hap- 
pen, it was hard to get used to. But 
it hasn't changed things too much. 
How about you?'" 

"Oh, I'm fine," said Lucinda. 
She smiled slowly, touched her 
tongue to her full lower lip. "Jenny, 
have you told anyone?" 

"Not a soul. Not even Bob. I 



NEVER UNDERESTIMATE 

■think he's a little bewfldered. He 
thinks I'm being very . . . lader- 
staiiding. Liicinda, is it wrong for 
me to let liini think that?" 

"It's never 'Wrong for a woman 
to keep lier knowledge to herself if 
it makes her more attractive," said 
Lucinda, and sniilci again. 

"How's Dr. Lefferts?" 

"He's bewildered too, I suppose 
I've been a little . . . understanding 
too." She cliucklecl. 

0¥er the phoue she heard Jen- 
nys answering laughter. "The poor 
things," she' said. 'The poor, poor 
things. Lucinda — " 

"Yes, boney." 

"I know how to handle this, now. 
But I don't really understand it. 
Do you?" 

"Yes, I think I do." 

"How can it be, then?' How can 
this change in ui affect men that 
way? I thought we would be the 
ones who would be turned off and 
on like a neon sign." 

"What? Now wait a minute, Jen- 
ny! You .mean you don't realize 
what's happened?" 

"That's what I just said. How 
could such a change in women do 
such a thing to the men?" 

"Jenny, I think you're wonder- 
ful, wonderful, wonderful," 
■ breathed Lucincla. "As a matter of 
fact, I think women are wonderful. 
I suddenly realized that you haven't 
the foggiest notion of wliat's hap- 
pened, yet youVe taken it in stride 
and used it exactfy right!" 

"Whatever do you mean?" 

"Jenny, do you feel any differ- 



113 

ence in. yourself?" 

"Why, no. All tlie difference is In 
Bob. That's what I-^" 

"Honey, there mft any differ- 
ence in yon, nor in mej nor in any 
other woman. For tlie ¥ery first 
time in his .scientiic Hfe, the great 
man laade an error in his calcula- 
tions," • 

There was silence for a time, and 
then the telephone uttered a soft, 
delighted, long-drawn-out "Oh-h- 
h-h4t ..." 

Lucinda said, "He's sure th.at in 
the long run it will have all the 
beiieits he described— tlie longer 
hfe expectancyj the subduing of 
insecurities, the streamhning of our 
manners and customs." 

"You mean that all men from 
now on will . . -" 

"I mean that for about twelve 
days in every two weeks, men eaii't 
do BBything with ii.i, which tis rest- 
ful. And for forty-eight hours they 
can't do anything without us, 
%vhich is— '^ She laughed. " — use- 
ful. It would seem that homo 
sapiens is still an atvpical mam- 
mal" 

Jenny's ¥oice was awed. "And I 
though.t we were going to lose thp 
battle of the sexes. Bob brings me 
little prcsCBts every single day, Lu- 
cinda!" 

"He'd better. Jenny, put do¥/n 
that phone and come over he.re. I 
want to hug you. And—" Slie 
glanced over at the hall closet, 
where hung the symW of her tri- 
umph — "I want to show you my 
ne%v fur coat." 



' THE EKB 




The HELL SHIP 



THE GIANT space liner swung 
down in a long arc, hung for 
an instant on columns of 
flame, then settled slowly into the 
blast-pit. But no hatch, opened; no 
air lock swung out; no person left 



the ship. It lay there, its voyage 
over, waiting. 

^ The thing at the controls had 
great corded man-like arms. Its 
skin was black with stiff fur. It iiacl 
fingers ending in heav).* talons and 



114 



The passengers rocketed through space in lux- 
ury. But they neuer went below decks because 
rumor had it that Satan himself manned the 
contrds of The Bell Ship, 



115 



eyes bulging from the base of a, 
massive skull. Its body was ponder- 
ous, heavy, ■jnliuma.n. 

After twenty minutes, a single 
air lock swung clear and a doECD 
armed men in Company uniforms 
went aboard. Still later, a truck 
liuiibered up, the cargo hatch 
cxeakpd aside, and a crane readied 
its long aeck in for the cargo. 

Still no creature from the "ship 
was seen to emerge. The truck driv- 
er, idly siiioMng near the hull, knew 
this was the Fresco tt, in from the 
|upiter run — that this was -the 
White Sands Space Port, But he 
didn't know what was inside the 
Prescott and he'd been told it 
wasn't healthy to ask. 

Gene O'Neil stood outside the 
electrified wire that surroyaded the 
White Sands port and thought of 
many tilings. .He thought of the 
eternal secrecy surrounding space 
travel; of the reinforced hush-hush 
enshrouding Company ' ships. No 
one ever visited the engine rooms. 
No one in all the nation had ever 
talked with a spaceman. Gene 
thought of the glimpse he'd gotten 
of the thing in the pilot's window. 
Then his thoughts drifted back to 
the newsrooms of Galactic Press 
Service; to Carter In his plush 

"Want to be a liero, son?" 
"WhOj me? Not today. Maybe 



tomorrow. Maybe the next day." 
"Don't be cute. It's an assign- 
ment. Get into White Sands." 
■"Who tried last?" 
"Jim Whiting." 
"where i$ Whiting now?" 
"FranHy we don't know. But—" 
"And the four guys who tried 
before Whiting?" 

_ "We don't know. But we'd like 
to find out." 




116 

"Try real hard. Maybe you will." 

"Cut it out. You're a newspaper- 
man aren't you?" 

"God help mCf yes. But there's 
no way." 

"There's a way. There's always 
a way. Like Whiting and tlie others. 
Your pals." 

'Back at the port looking through 
the hot wire. Sure there was a way. 
Ask questions out loud. Then sit 
back and let them throw a noose 
arotmd you. And there was a place 
where you could do the sitting in 
complete comfort. Where Whiting 
had done it — but only to *uanhh off 
the face of the earth. Damn Carter 
to all hell! 

Gene turned and walked up the 
sandy road toward the place wliere 
tlie gaudy neons of the Blue Moon 
told hard working men where they 
could spend tlieir money. The Blue 
Moon. It was quite a place. 

Outside, beneath the big crescent 
sign, Gene stopped to watch the 
crowds eddying in and out. Then 
he went in, to watch them cluster 
around the slot machines and bend 
in eager rows over the view slots of 
the peep shows. 

He rnoved into the bar, dropped 
on one of the low stools. He ordered 
a beer and let Ms eyes drift around. 

A man sat down beside him. He 
was husky, tough looking. "Ain't 
you the guy w^o's been asking ques- 
tions about th^ crews down at the 
Port?" 

Gene felt it coiiuiig. He looked 
the maa over. His heavy face was 
iushed with good living, eyes pe- 
culiarly direct of stare as if he was 
trying to keep them from roving 
suspiciously by force of will. He was 



RAY PALMER 

well dressed, and his heavy hands 
twinkled with several rather large 
diamonds. The man went on: "I 
can give you the information yon 
want— for a price, of course." He 
nodded toward an e.xit. "Tc» pub- 
lic in here, though." 

Gene grinned without mirth as 
lie thought, move over Whiting—- 
here I come, and followed the man 
toward the door. 

Outside the' man waited, and 
Gene moved up close. 

"You see, it's this way . . ." 

Something exploded against 
Gene's skull. Even as fiery darkness 
closed down he knew he'd foiind 
the waf. But only a stupid news- 
paperman would take it. Damn 
Garter! 

Gene went out. 

He seemed to be dreaming. Over 
him bent a repulsive, man-like face. 
But the man had fingernails grow- 
ing on his chin where his whiskers 
should have been. And his eyes 
were funny— walled, as though he 
bordered on idiocy. In the dream, 
Gene felt himself strapped into a 
hammock. Then .something pulled 
at him and made a terrible racket 
for a long time. Then it ■ got very 
quiet except' for a tlirobbing in his 
head. He went back to sleep. 



SHE HAD on a starched white 
outfit, but it wasn't a nurse's 
uniform.,^ There wasn't much skirt, 
and what there was of it was only 
the back part. The neckline 
plunged to the waist and stopped 
there. It was a peculiar outfit for 
a nurse to be wearing. But it looked 
familiar. 



THE HELL SHIP 

Her soft hands fixed something 
0¥er his eyes, something cold and 
wet He felt grateful, but kept on 
trying to remember. Ah, he had it; 
the girls wore that kind of outfit in 
tlie Blue Moon in one. of the skits 
they did, -burlesquing a hospital. He 
took off the wet cloth and looked 
again. 

She was a dream. Even with her 
lips rouge-scarletj her cheeks pink 
with makeup, her eyes heavy \¥itli 
artiface. 

"What gives, 'beautiful?" He was 
surprised "at the weakness of his 
voice. 

Her voice was hard, but nice, 
and it was bitter, as though she 
wanted hard people to know she 
knew the score, could be just a little 
harder. "You're a spaceman now! 
Didn't you inow?" », 

Gene grinned weakly. "I don't 
know a star from a street light. No- 
body gets on the space crews these 
days — it's a closed union." 

Her iaiigh was full of a knowl- 
edge denied him. "That's what I 
used to think!" 

She began to unstrap Mm from 
the liairimock. Then she pushed 
back his hair, prodded at the pur- 
ple Imob on liis head with careful 
fingertips. 

"How come you're on this ship?" 
asked Gene, wincing but letting her 
fingers explore. 

"Shanghaied, same as you. I'm 
from the Blue Moon. I stepped out 
between acts for a breath, of fresh 
air, and wliani, a sack over the 
head and here I am. They thought 
you might have a cracked skull. 
Oae .of the monsters toH me to 
clieck you. No doctor on the Aip." 



117 

Gene groaned. "Then I didn't 
dream it — there is a guy on this 
ship with fingernails instead -of a 
beard on Ms chin!" 

She nodded. "You haven't seen 
anything yet!" 

"Wily are we here?" 

"You've been shangliaied to 
work the ship. I'm here for a dif- 
ferent purpose— tliese men can't 
get off the ship and theyVe got to 
be kept tlicm contented. We've got 
ourselves pleasant jobs, with mon- 
ster for playmatesj and we can't 
get fired. It'll be the rottenest time 
of our lives, and the rest of our 
lives, as far as I can see." 

Gene sank down, put the com- 
press back on his bump. "I dtwi't 
get it." 

"You will. I'm not absolutely 
sure I'm right, but I know a little 
more about it 'than you." 

"What's your name?"^' 

"They call me Queenie Brant. A 
name that fits this business. My real 
name is Ann O'DonnelL" 

"Qiieenie's a horse's name — I'll 
' call you Ann, Me, I'm Gene 
O'Neil." ■ 

"That makes us both Irish," she 
»id. He lifted" the compress and 
saw the first really natural smile on 
her face. It was a, sweet smile, intro- 
spective, dewy, young; 

*'Yoil were only a dancer." He 
said It iatly. 

For a long in.«tant she looked at 
him. "Thanks. ^Yoii got inside the 
gate on that one.'* 

"It's in jouT eyes* Pm glad to 
know you, Ann. And I'd Ike to 
know you better." 

"You will There'll be plenty of 
time ; we're bound for lo." • 



118 

"Where's lo?" 

'■'One of Jupiter's moons, you 
Irish ignoramus. It has quite a 
colony around the mines. Also it has 
a strange race of people. But Ann 
O'Donnell is going to live' Acre if 
she can get off this ship. I don't 
want fingernails growing on my 
dim" 

O'Neil sat wp. "I get it b,ow! It's 
something about the atomic drive 
that changes the crew!" 

"What else?" 

Gene looked at Ann, let Ms eyes 
rove over licr figure. 

"Take a good look," she said bit- 
terly. "Maybe it ^woB't stay like tliis 
»ery long!" ■ 

"We've got to get off this ship!" 
said Gene hoarsely.. 



THE DOOR of the stateroom 
opened. A sharp-nosed fact- 
peered in, followed by a misshapen 
body of a man in a dirty blue uni- 
form. Hair grew thick all around 
liis neck and clear up to Ms ears. It 
also covered the skin from chin to 
shirt opening. The hair bristled, 
coarse as an aBimal's. His voice was 
thick, Ms words hissiag as though 
his tongue was too heavy to move 
prop«Tly. 

"Captain wants you, O'Neil." 
Gene got up, took a step. He 
went clear across the room, banged 
against the walL The little man 
laughed. 

"We're in space," Ann said. "We 
have a simulated ^ gravity about a 
quarter normal. Here, let me put 
on your metal-soled slippers. 
They're magnetized to hold you to 
the floor." She bent and sHpped 



RAY PALMER 

the things on his feet, while Gune 
held his throbbing head. 

The little man opened the -door 
and went out. Gene followed, his 
feet slipping along awkwardly. 
After a minute Ms nausea lessened. 
At the end of the long steel corridor 
the little man knocked, then opened 
the door to a lorn' rumble ot com- 
mand. He didn't enter, just stood 
aside, for Gene. Gene walked in, 
stood staring. 

The eyes in the face he saw were 
black pools of nothingness, without 
emotion, yet behind them an active 
mind was apparent. Gene realized 
this hairy thing was the Captain— 
even tliough he didn't even wear a 
shirt! 

"You've shanghaied me," said 
Gene. "I don't like it." 

The voice was huge and cold, 
like wind from an ice Held. "None, 
of us like it, chum. But the ships 
have got to sail. You're one of us 
now, hecsMse we're on our way arid 
by the time you get there, there'll 
be no place left for you to work, un- 
less it's in a circus as a freak." 

"I didn't ask for it," said Gene. 

"You did. You wanted to 'know 
too much about the crew— and if 
you found out, you'd spread it. You 
see, the driYCs are not what they 
were cooked up to be — the atomics 
leak, and it wasn't found out until 
too late. After they learned, "they 
hid'the truth, because the cargo we 
bring is wortli millions. All the 
shielding they've used so far only 
seems to make it worse. But that 
won't stop the ships— they'll get 
crews the way they got you, and 
Bosey people will find out more 
than they bargain for." ^ ^ 



THE HELL SHIP 

"I won't take it sitting down!" 
said Gene angrily. 

The' Captain ignored Mm. "Start 
saying sir. It's etiquette aboard ship 
to say sir to the Captain. 

"I'll never say sir to anyone who 
got me into this . . ." 

Tile Captain knocked him down. 
Gene had plenty of time to block 
the blow. He had put up his arms, 
but the big fist ¥/ent right througii 
and crasfied against Ms cliiri. Gene 
sat down hard, staring up at the 
liaiiy thing that had once been a 
man. He suddenly realized the 
Captain was standing there waiting 
for an excuse to kill him. 

Through split and. bleeding lips, 
wMle liis stomach turned .over and 
his head seemed on the point ol 
bursting. Gene said: "Yes, sir!" 

Tlie Gfiptain turned Ms Ijack, sat 
down again. He shoved aside a 
mass of worn cliartSj battered in- 
struments, cigar butts, ashtrays 
with statuettes of naked girls in 'a 
half-dozen startliBg poses, comic 
books, illustrated magazines witli 
sexy pictiu-es, and made a space on 
the top. He 'thiimt forward a sheet 
of paper. He picked up a fountain 
pen, flirted it so that .ink spattered 
tlie tangle of junk 011 liis desk, then 
handed it to Gene. "Sign on the 
dotted line." 

Gene picked up the document. It 
was an ordinary kind of form, an 
application for employment as a 
spacehand, third class, Tlie ship 
was not -named, but merely called 
a cargo boat. This was the paper 
the Company needed to keep the 
investigators satisfied that no one 
was forced to work" on the ships 
against their will. -Anger Minded 



119 

Mm. He didn't take tlie pen. He 
just stood looking at the Captain 
and wondering how to keep liimsel 
from being beaten to deatli. 

After a long moment of silence 
the Captain laid the pen down, 
|riimed horribly. He gave a snort, 
"It's just a formality. I'm siippased 
to tum these things over to the 
authorities, but tliey never bother 
us anymore. Sign it later, after 
youVe learned. You'll be glad to 
sign, then." 

"Wliat's my job, Captain?" ^ 

"Captain Jorgens, and don't for- 
get the sir!" 

"Captain Jorgens, sir." 

"I'll put you with the Gliief En- 
gineer. He'll find work for you, 
down in tJie pile, room." 

The Captain. laughed a nasty 
laugh, repeating the last phrase 
with relish. "The pile room! ' 
There's a place for you, Mr. O'Neil. 
When you decide to sign your pa- 
pers, we'll get you a job in some 
otl-ier part of tills can!" 

Gene found his way back to the 
cabin he had Just left. The little 
fiiy^witli the hairy neck was there, 
Jeering at the girl. 

'"Put you in the pile rang didn't 
he?" r , s 5 

Gene nodded, sat down wearily. 
"I want to sleep," he said. 

"Nuts," said the little man. "Tin 
here to take you to the Chief En- 
gineer. You go on duty in half an 
hour. Gome on!" 

Gene got up. He was too sick to 
argue. Ann looked at him sympa- 
thetically, noting his split lips. He 
managed a gria at her, "If I never 
see you again, Ann, it's heen nice 
knowing joity'v^ry nice." 



120 

'TU see you. Gene. They'll find 
us tougher than tlie? bargained 
for." 



THE ENGINE room looked like 
some of the atomic power sta- 
tions he'd seen. Only smaller. There 
was no lieavy concrete shielding, no 
lead walls. There was shielding 
aroutid the central pile, 'and Gene 
knew that inside it was the hell of 
atomic chain reaction under th,e 
control of the big levers that moved 
the cadmium bar.?. There was a 
steam turbine at one end, and a 
huge boiler at the other. Gene 
didn't even try to guess how the 
pile activated the jets that drove 
the space ship. Somehow it 
"biirneci" the water. 

This pile had been illegal from 
the first. Obviously some official 
had been bribed to permit the first 
u.se of it on a spaceship. Certainly 
no one who koew anything about 
the .subject would have allowed hu- 
man beings to work around a thing 
like this. 

Gene's skin crawled and prickled 
with the energies that saturated the 
room. Little sparks leaped licrc and 
there, off his finger-tips, off his 
nose. 

The Chief Engineer was on a 
metal platform above the ma- 
chinery le¥eL The face had hair 
all over it, even on the eyelid,s, The 
eyes, popping weirdly, were double. 
Tliey looked as if second eyes had 
started growing inside the original 
ones. They werenh reasonable; they 
weren't even sane. The look of 
them made Ge»ne sick, 

The Engineer shook his head 



RAY PALMER 

back _ and forth to focus the awful, . 
miitiiated eyes. His ¥oice was in- 
finitely weary, strangely muffled. 
"Aoother sacrifice to Moloch, an's 
the pity! So they put you down 
here, as if there was anything to be 
done? Well, it'll be nice to -work 
with someone who still has Ms but- 
tons—as long ■ as they last. Sit 
down." 

Gene sat down and the metal 
chair ga¥e him a shock that made 
him jump. "I don't know anything 
about this kind of work." 

The man shrugged, "Who does? 
The pile runs itself. Ain't enough 
of it moYes to need much greasing. 
You ought to be able to ind the 

grease cups- -they're painted red. 

Fill them, wipe off" the dust, and 
wait. Then do it over again." 

"What's the score on this 
bucket?" 

"We're all signed on witli a billy 
to tlie knob. And kept aboard by a, 
guard system that's pretty near per- 
fect. After awhile tlie emanations 
get to our brains and we don't care 
anymore. Then we're trusted em- 
ployees. Only reason I don't blow 
lier loose, it wouldn't do any good." 

He got up, a fragile old body 
clad in dirty oi'eralls. He beckoned 
Gene- to follow him. He led the way 
to a periscope arrangement over 
the shielded pile. Gene peered in. 
It was like a look into boiEng Hell. 
As Gene stared, the old man talked 
in his ear. 

"Supposed to be perfectly 
shielded, and maybe they are. But 
something gets out. I think it hap- 
pens in the jet assembly. A tiny 
trickle of high, pressure steam 
crosses the atomic beam just above 



THE HELL SHIP 

a pinhole that leads into the jet 
tube. It's exploded by 'the beam, 
exploded into God knows what, 
and tlie result is your jet. It's a 
wonderful drive, with plenty of 
power for the purpose. But I think 
it forms a strong field of static over 
the whole shell of the ship, a kind 
of sphere of reflection that throws 
the emanatioBs back into the ship 
from every point. Just niy theory, 
but it explains why you get these 
physical clianges, because that proc- 
ess of reflection giveS a clifTerent 
ray tliaii was observed in the or- 
dinary shielded jet." 

Gene nodded, asked: "Can I 
look at the jet assembly?" 

"Ain't iiO' way to look at it! It's 
sealed tip to hold in tlic expanding 
gases from that exploded steam. 
Looting in this periscope is what 
changed my eyes. Only other place 
the unshielded emanations could 
escape is from' the jet chamber. 
Only way they can get back into 
the ship is by reiection from some 
ionized layer around the ship. If I 
could talk to some of tlio« big- 
hrained birds that developed this 
drive. I'd sure have tilings to say." 

Gene was convinced the old man 
knew what he was talking *about. 
"Why don't you try to put your in- 
foniiation where it'll do .some good? 
How about the Captain?" 

"He's coocoo." The old rnan 
slapped the cover back on the peri- 
scope, tottered back to his perch on 
the platform. "He sure has changed 
the last two years. Won't hsteii to 
reason.'* 

Gene squatted on the- steps, just 
beneath the old engineer's chair. 
The old man seemed glad to have 



.121 

someone to talk to. 

"It's got US' trapped. And it'.s so 
well covered up from the people. 
Old spacers are changed phy-sically, ' 
changed mentally. They know they 
can't go back to normal life, be- 
cause it's gone too far. They'd be 
freaks. No woman 'would want a 
monstrosity around. Besides, it 
don't stop, even after you leave the 
.ships. God kno'ws what we'll look 
Hke in the end." 

Gene shiv-ered. "But you're all 
grown men! A fight with no chance 
of winning h better 'than this! Wfiy 
do you take it?" 

"Because the mind changes along 
with the body. It goes dead in some 
ways, gets more active in others. 
The personality shif'ts inside, iiotil ' 
yo'ii're not sure of yourself, and 
can't make decisions any more. 
That's why nobody does anything. 
Something about those rays de- 
stroys the will. Nobody leaves the 
Aips." 

"I will!" Gene said confidently. 
"When, the time comes, I'll go. All 
I'lell can't stop me." 

The old man yawned. "Hope 
you do, son,. Hope you do. I'm go- 
ing to take me a nap." He propped 
his feet up on the platform rail and 
in seconds was snoring. 

Gime clenched his fists, growing 
despiir^ in his thoughts. • 

"Tain't no 'worse than dying in 
a war," muttered the old man in 
hl.1 sleep. 



THE DAYS weii't by and. Gene 
learned. lie uiidentood why 
these men didn't activfily resent the 
deal they were getting. No wonder 



122 ■ 

the secrecy was so effective! The 
radiations cleaclenecl the mind, gave 
one tlie feeling of numbness, so that 
nothing mattered buf the next 
meal, the next movife in the rec- 
reation lounge, the next drink of 
water. Values changed and shifted, 
and none of tliem seemed impor- 
tant 

The chains that began to bind 
him were far stronger than steel. 
The chains were mental deteriora- 
tioH, degeneration, mutation within 
the very cells of the raind. He knew 
that now he mu.st tend this monster 
forever, grease and wipe the ugly 
metal of it, and sit and talk idly to 
MacNamara, its keeper. He real- 
iied it, and didn't know how to 
care! 

The anger and hate came later. 
The real, abiding aBger. aii,d the 
living hate. At first the numbness, 
the sudden incomprehensible enor- 
mity of what had happened to him, 
then the anger. Hate churned and 
ground away- inside him, getting 
stronger by the hour. It all revolved 
around the Captain who tramped 
eternally around the corridors bel- 
lowing ordcjs, punching with his 
huge fists. He knew there was more 
to it; the lying owners of the Corn- 
pany, the bribe-taking officials, llie 
heahh officers who failed to exam- 
ine the ships and the men and the 
ships' pajjera. But somehow it all 
boiled dt>wn to the Captain. 

Sometimes he was sure he must 
be -crazy .already. Sometimes he 
would wake up screaming from a 
nightmare only to find reality more 
horrible. - 

Then he woalcl go to Ann, 

Ann wis not tlie only woman 



RAY PALMER 

abo-ard sliip. There were three 
others, and to tlie crew of twenty 
imprisoiiedj enslaved . men they 
represented all' beaiity, all woman- 
hood. They lived with the men — 
as the -men — and nobody cared. 
Here, so close tO' the raging ele- 
mentals of the pile, life itself was 
elemental. 

As one of them expressed it to 
Gene: "'Why worry? We're all 
sterile from the radioacti\'ity any- 
way. Or didti't yolr know?" She 
had' been on the ship for years, and 
was covered \vith a fine fur, like a 
caths. Her eyes were wide, placid, 
empty; an animal's iiii thinking 
eyes. Gene prayed Ann would never 
turn monster before hi.s eyes ; hoped 
desperately they could get away iti 
time. 

"We've got to fight, Ann," he 
.said to her one day. "We must find 
a way to get off at the end of the . 
trip, or it will be too Idte for iiS 
to live normal lives. It's then of 
never. Be-sides that, we've got to 
warn people of what's going on. 
They think space trat-'d is safe. In. 
time thi.s could effect the whole' 
race. The world must be told, so 
something can be done." 

.drill's young face showed signs 
of the strain. Tlie fear of turning 
into soDie hideous thing was prey- 
ing on her mind. She spoke rapid- 
ly, her voice breaking a little. "I've 
been talking to several of the crew,, 
the old-timers, trying to get an un- 
derstanding of why nothing is done. 
It's this way: when tlie ships land, 
guards come aboard. They're 
posted at the cargo locks and the 
passenger entrances. The only door 
aboard the ship tliat leads to the 



THE HELL SHIP 

passenger compartment is in ^the 
Captain's cabin, and it's locked 
from both sides. Even our Captain 
never meets the piissengers. There's 
only one chance, a mutiny. Then 
we could open the door, shov/ the 
passengers." 

"It wouldn't do any good. When 
we landed, they'd find a way to 
shut us all up before we got to any- 
body. They've liad a lot of practice 
keeping this quiet. They know the 
ansm'ers." 

She stamped a foot angrily. "It 
was you who said we had to fight! 
Mow you say it's hopeless !" 

Gene leaned against Ae %vall and 
passed a hand across his eyes. He 
looked at Ann's finished beauty and 
managed a grin. "Guess I'm getting 
as bad as the rest of than, baby. 
We'll fight. Sure we'll fight." 



IT STARTED with Schwenky. 
A Schwenky was a gigantic Swede. 
He was the boss freight handler. 
It was Iiis' job to sort the cargo for 
the next port of call. He tvould get 
it into the cargo lock, tlieii seal the 
doors so nobody would tfy to smug- 
gle themselves out with the freight. 
Scliweiiky wa.s intensely loyal and 
stupid enough not tjy understand 
the real reason behind their im- 
prisonment—which was why lie 
held liis job. Ko one got by 
Schwenky. 

But tliis time, in Marsport, some- 
thing was missing. They'd driven 
the trucks up to the cargo port, un- 
loaded everything, apd Aeii com- 
pared ' itivoices with the material. 
They swore some claimed ma- 
chinery parts were '*iue them. 



123 

Scliwenky swore lie'cl placd ilit-t'i 
ill the cargo lock, and thul the 
truckers were trying to hold up the 
Company. 

The Captain allowed the truck- 
ers' claim and after the ship had 
Hasted off into space, called 
Schwenky in to bawl him out. They 
must have gotten really steamed 
up, because Gene and Frank 
Maher heard tlie racket clear down 
on the next deck where they were 
cleaning freight out of a sealed 
compartment for the next stop. 

Gene and Frank raced up tlie 
ladders to the top deck, and Gene 
found the break he had prayed for. 
Schwenky holding the Captain 
again.st the wall; beating the mon- 
strosity that had once been a man 
with terrible fi.sts. Gene felt a sud- 
den thrill. In a situation like this 
you used any weapon fan could 
find. Schwenky was a deadly 
weapon. 

Gene laid a hand on Schwenky's 
niassive .shoulder. "Hold it man! 
Youll kill him!" ^ 

Schwenky turned a face, red and 
popeyed, to Gene. "The Captain 
make a mistake. He try to knock 
Schwenky clown. No man do that 
to Schwenky." 

"When he comes to, he'll Irxk 
you in the brig, put you on bread 
and water. . ." 

Suddenly Schwenky realized the 
enormity of his offense. It wa.s ob- 
vious -from his face tliat he consid- 
ered himself already dead. "Nah, 
niY friend Gene! "Now they kill 
Schwenky. .Bad! But what I do?" 

Gene eyed Mm carefully. "Put 
the Captain in the brig, of cour.«. 
What else? Then he cmk kill you." 



124 

"Lock hioi up, ell? Good idea! 
Then we ttiiak, you and I, -what we 
do next. Maybe sometliing come to 
us, ell?" ^ 

Geiie beat over the Captain's 
body, found the pistol in his hip 
poclet, put it in his om'ii. He took 
the ling of keys from the belt. 

"Bring him along, Schwenky. If 
we meet anyone, I'll use this." 
Gene patted the gun. "I won't let 
fhem hurt my Mend, Schwetiky." 

"Damn! let them come! I fix 
them! Don't have to shoot them. 
I got fists!" 

"I'd rather be shot, my.self," said 
Gene, watching the ease with which 
the giaiit freight handler lifted the 
huge body of the Captain, tossing 
it over Ms shoulder like a sack of 
stfaw. 

"I'll go ahead," said Frank 
Maher. "If I run into Perkin.s, the 
First, I'll whistle once. If I run into 
Symonds, the Second, I'll whistle 
twice. I don't think there's another 
sotil aboard we need worry about. 
All we got to do is slap the Gap in 
the brig, roHnd up Perkins and 
Symonds, and the ship is ours. 
What worries me, Gene, then what 
do we do?" 

"It's Schwenlcy's mutiny," 
grinned Gene. "Ask him." 

"Nah!" said Schwenky hastily. 
"I doo' know. Maybe we just sail 
on till we incl good place, leave 
ship, go look for job.'' 

Maher said, "Me with mylumpy 
face? And the Chief with hair on 
hi.s cheekbones and dotible eyeballs? 
And Heinle with fingernails grow- 
ing where his collar button should 
be? I wonder what we can do, if 
we get free?" 



' RAYPALMEft 

■PHEY got down the lot 
1 stairwell, but passing along the 
rather lengthy companidnway to 
the next stairhead, they heard 
Maher whistle twice. Schwenky .put 
the Captain down, conked him 
with one ma.ssive fist to make stire ^ 
he stayed out, then stood there, 
waiting. The Second came up oat 
of the sfairm'cll, turned and started 
toward thern. Gene put hisiiatid on 
the gun butt, waiting until he had 
to pull it. Schwenky said: "Gome 
here, Mr. Perkins, sir. Look see 
what has happened!" 

The fingiishman peered at thfe 
shapeless, hairy mass of the imcoii- 
scioiis .Captain. His face went 
white. Gene knew he was m'onder- 
itig if he could keep the crew from 
mutiny without the Captain pres- 
ent to cow them. Perkins straight- 
ened, his face a pallid mask in 
the dimness. "What happened, 
Schwenky?" 

"This, Mr. Perkins, sir—'* said 
Schwenky. He slapped an opeit 
palm against the side of Perkins' 
head. Perkins^ sprawled full lengtl'i 
on the steel deck, but he wasn't out, 
which surprised Gene. He lay there, 
staring up at the gigantic Swede, 
his f.'ice half red from the terrible 
How, the other half white with the 
fear in him. His hand was tugging 
at Ills side and Gene realized he 
was after his gun. Gene pulled out 
his own weapon even as he leaped 
upon the sMm body of the man on 
the floor. His feet missed the mov- 
ing mm, the hand came out with a 
siiub-tiosed atitoniatic iii, it. Getie 
grabbed it, Ijote down. But the guii 
went off, Ae bullet ricocheting off 
the wall-p^es with a sefeanit Getje 



THE HELL SHIP 

slugged the man across the head 
with the barrel of the Captain's 
gun. Perkins went limp. Maher 
came up now and grabbed Perkins' 
gun. 

"Lead on/' said Gene.' He picked 
Perkins, up and put Mm over Ms 
shoulder. Schwenky retrieved the 
slumbering Captain and they pro- 
ceecle'd on their way to the cell on 
tile bottom deck. 

But the shot had been heard, and 
from above came the sotind of run- 
ning feet. Gene began to trot, al-" 
most fell down the last flight of 
stairs, wfent along the companion- 
way at a run. At the cell door he 
dropped Perkins, tried four or fi¥e 
keys frantically. One fit. He pulled 
opeo the door and Schwenky drove 
in, kicking the body of PeAins over 
the sill. The Captain dropped 
heavily to the deck and Schwenky 
was out again. Gene was locking 
the door when he heard the .shout 
from Symonds, running toward 
tlieni. 

"What's going on there, men?" 

Schwenky started to amble to- 
ward the dark, wiry Second, his big 
face smiling like that of a .simple- 
ton. "We haf little trouble, Mr. 
SymoiidSj sir. Maybe we should call 
you, but we did not haf time. 
E¥erything is all right now. You 
come 'se'e, we explain every- 
thing . . ." 

He made a grab for^ the little 
Second Mate's neck with one big 
paw. But the Second was wary, 
ducked' quickly, was off. Gene and 
Maher sprang after him. Gene 
shouted: "Stop or I'll fire, Sy- 
monds! You're all alone n,ow!" 

Gene let one shot angle off the 



125 

wall, close beside the fleeing form, 
but the roao didn't stop. Instead 
he headed for the bridge. Gene re- 
alized he could lock himself in, 
keep them from the ship controls. 
He could hold out there the rest of 
the voyage. 

"We've got to stop him!" 

Maher clo.se behind, they ran up 
the stairs on the Second's heels. Up 
the companionway they pounded, 
the Second increasing his lead. A 
door opened ahead of him and Ann 
O'Donnell appeared. 

Symonds cursed and tried to pass 
her. Ann deftly slid out one pretty 
leg and the officer turned a somer- 
sault, and brought up against the 
walhat the foot of the stairs to the 
upper deck and the bridge. 

But the Second was too fright- 
ened to let a little thing like a fall 
stop liim. He went scrambling up 
the stairs on all fours. Gene was still 
too far away, and Ann moved like 
a streak of light. She sailed through 
the air in a long dancer's leap and 
with two bounds was up the stair, 
ahead of the scrambling, fear- 
stricken officer, 

"Out of niy way, bitch," and 
Symonds hurled himself, toward 
Ann. 

Gene leaped forward, but he 
needn't have bothered. Ann lifted 
one of her educated feet, caught 
the Second under the chin and he 
came down the stair like a sacl of 
meal. Gene caught his full weight. 

The .two men fell in a scramble 
of flailing anns and legs, knocking 
the props out fi;om under Maher, 
who had started' out after them. 
Just how the mi3|up might have 
ti^rned aM they were not to, know, 



126 

for just tlieii the vast weight of 
Schwehky descended upon, the 
three and Maher let out a scream 
of anguish. But Gene and Spnoiids 
were on 'the bottom, too crushed 
by this tactic to make a sound. ' 



rr WAS niiiiutes later when 
Gene came back to conscioiis- 
nfess, Bndiiig his head resting in 
Ami O'Donnelfs lap while her 
swift llatids prodded Mm here and 
tliere, looking for brolcen bones. 
_ "I'm dead for sure," groaned 
dene. ' 

"You've just had the wind 
knocked out* of you. You'll be jill 
right," and Ann let his head fall 
from her grasp with a thump. She 
stood up, a little abashed at the go- 
ing o¥er she'd been gi¥i!ig h,iiri. 

"Where're niy mutineers?'' CJene 
asked. 

"Went to lock Sytaonds with the 
others. What is going to happen 
now? I'm not sure I like this de- 
velopment, now it's happened." 

"You should have thought of 
that before you tripjied Syrno:ads/' 
said Getie. '"But I'll admit tliere are 
problems. For instance, with all the 
officers in the brig, how can we be 
sure we can keep this atomic junk 
heap headed in, the right direc- 
tion?" 

"What h the correct direction?" 
asked Ann, squatting down beside 
liiiii. 

"I don't know. Wei! have to 
igu|-e it out, then see if we can 
point her that way." 

"Ltt's get up to the bridge," she 
said. ; 

Scliwenky and Maher found 



RAY PALMER 

them brooding over the series of 
levers and buttons wiiich comprised 
the control board. Scliwenky noted 
their baffled frowns. His big face' 
took on a worried look. "'You fix!" 
he said. "Yoii good fellow. Gene. 
We run sliia, let officers go to hell. 
Ya1i!" 

Maher scratched one patch of 
greying hair over his left eye. The 
rest of his skull was covered with 
brown bumps like fungiis grom'ths, 
"It's just possible we'll wreck the 
ship, let the air out of her or some- 
thing, if we experiment," he 
warned. 

"Go get MacNamara," said 
Gene. "He's been on the sliip longer 
than any of us. Maybe he'll know." 

He didn't. "All I know is grease 
cups," he reminded Gene. 

Hours later eighteen men arid 
four women gathered together iit 
the recreation, room to discuss a 
plan of action.' Everyone had his or 
her ideas, but after an hour of 
wrangling, they got nowhere. Final- 
ly Gene held up a hand aod shouted 
for .silence. 

"Let's decide who's boss, then 
follow orders," he said. "If I may 
be so bold, how about me?" 

"'Yah!" said Schwenky. "I dc) 
what you say. I like you!" 

Old MacNamata gnimbled to 
himself. "Do nothing, I say. We 
ought to stick to our duty, and save 
the lives of tiiose who would have 
to take our places . . ,** The un- 
guarded pile had given^ Mac- 
Namara a niartyr complex.' 

Maher looked over at Mm. 
"Your idea ot sacrifice is all very 
fine, MacNamara.jBut we're iiot all 
anxious to die. YtJii know what 



THE HELL SHIP 

would happen now if we ga¥e up!" 
Gene spoke up again. "Let me 
sumiTi'arlze the position m'c're in— 
maybe then we can make a better 
decision." 

• "Go ahead," said Ann. Tlie oth- 
ers nodded and fell silent, waiting, 
Gene cleared his throat. "The 
m'ay it looks to me, we've had a 
lucky accident in getting control of 
the ship. So far, we've • not con- 
tacted the passengers. Tliey know 
nothing of the change thmh taken 
place. As it is, I see oo point in 
contacting them. It might force us 
to face another mutiny, that of the 
passengers, who would regard us as 
what we are, mutineers, and when 
they found we weren't going to our 
destination, they'd certainly net all 
take it lying down. Point number 
one, then, is to ignore the passen- 
gers, keep the knowledge of a 
mutiny from them. 

"Now, our real piu'pose in this 
mutiny is to expose this whole vi- 
cious secret slavery, tell Earth of 
tile danger of the unshielded piles 
in space ships, destroy the Com-, 
pany's monopoly, and bring about 
new research which I'm "sure 
would eventually o^'crcome the dif- 
ficulty. Just how are we going to 
do that? The answer is simple— 
we must get back to Earth, and we 
must get back in a way the Com- 
pany will not be able to intercept 
us. As I iinder!itg.ncl it, this won't 
be easy. The Company is in com- 
plete coBtrol of space travel, and 
they have tiie ship? to knock us out 
of space before we can, get near 
Earth. Somehow we've got to win 
through. Can wc do it by a direct 
return to Earth? I cI,oubt it. How- 



127 

ever, say we do it. Then where do 
we go? The goveniment might look 
upon us as mutineers and thus give 
the Company a chance to quash 
the whole affair. ' , 

"So weVe got to go directly to 
die people, who, once they see tts, 
and reaEze what space travel with 
these jrjiles means, will demand an 
explanation with such public feel- 
ing even the government can't 
avoid a showdown. It's the secrecy 
we must break. Thus, we must land 
on Earth with the biggest pos- 
sible splurge of publicity. We've got 
to do it so no Company ship can 
prevent it, 

"Then there's this to consider. 
Most of you would find it a difficult 
thing to take up a life on. Earth- 
I knom' that many of you want to 
talie off for some remote world, and 
try to live out your lives by your- 
selves. I say that would be a cow- 
ardly thing to do. So, before we 
decide anything eke, I say let's de- 
cide here and now that the only 
thing we will do hs go back to 
Earth." 

One of the most grotesquely de- 
formed of the crew spoke up. "No 
woman would ever look at me," he 
said defiantly. "Children would 
stare at me and scream in terror. 
IVe suffered enough. Why .should 
I suffer more?" 

The woman in the fine fur got to 
her feet and walked over to him. 
She sat down beside him and tool 
his hand in hers. "I will look at 
you," she said. "When vie get bach 
to Earth, I %ili many you and li¥e 
wi|h you — if you are brave enough 
to take rnc there," 

For an instant the crewman 



158 

stared at her out of Iiis horribly 
bulging popeyes, then he swallowed 
hard and clutched her band fiercely. 

"The Devil Iilnlsdf will hot keep 
me from it!" lie said hoarKlf. 

Gene, starihg at the man, felt a 
warm liand slip into his, and he 
tamed to find Armi 

"I think that answers for all of 
lis," slie said. 

The room rang with the shouts of 
approval. 

Once more Gene begao talking. 
"All right, then, I've a plan. First, 
we'll try to find out how to ma- 
neuver this criift. I beliete we caa 
persuade one of the Mates to sliow 
us the ctoiitrols without miicE 
trouble." 

"Yah!" interrupted Schweiiky. 
"Thevshow!".. 

"We'll set a course for Earth by 
the sun. We'll come in with the sun 
at our back, which means we'll 
have to make a wide circle off tlie 
traFcled spacelanes, through im- 
, known space, and 'cotne In from tlie 
direction of the inner planets, 
wMch are uninhabited ebcI liiivis- 
ited. Also, witli the sun behind us, 
we won't be observed from Earth. 
Then, with all oiir speed, we'll 
come io, land at high noon in Chi- 
cago, right in front of the offices 
of the Sentinel the newspaper for 
which I ivork." 

There was a chorus of exclatna- 
tions. Arm looked at Mm in amaze- 
ment. "Yoli, a newspaperman!" 
she gasped. 

"Yesj I was sent out by my boss 

to ind out what was behind the 

. secrecy bi the space ships. I got 

shanghaied as A crew member. 

Mow, with your help, maybe 1 tan 



RAY PALMER 

coitijjlete rtiy assigniiient. Once we 
get tci my boss, the show will be 
over. He'll Mast the story wide 
open.*' 

"Wonderful!" shouted Maher. 
"dome, Schwenky! We will get-' 
Perkins and make Mm show us hoW 
to run the ship !" 

Schwenkf chortled iii glee. 
."Yah! We get. By golly, I know 
that Gene O'Neill is good inafl! 
Maybe I get my picture in news- 
paper?" 

Maher stared at Mm. "God for- 
bid!" he said. "Unless it's in the 
cUmit section!" 

"Yah!" agreed Schweiiky. "In 
comic sefctloii!" 



TWO WEEKS later, as the ship 
crossed Earth's orbit arid headed 
in behind tlie planet in the plane, 
of the sun, the meteorite hit. It tore 
a great hole in the passenger side 
of the ship, amd knocked out the 
port jets. 

The ship veered crazily under 
the influence of its lopsided blast, 
knd the crew was hurled against 
the wall and pinned there as the 
continuing involuntary maneuver 
built up acceleration. 

Gene, who had been in Ms bank, 
was pressed against the wall by a 
giant hand. Savagely he fought to 
adjust himself into a more hear- 
able position, then tried to igurfe 
out what had happened. Obviously 
the ship was Veering about, out of 
control.. 

"Meteorite!" he gasped. «We'¥e 
been hit." • , 

He pulled 'Mtnself from the bunk, 
slid iiloflg the wall to the dtor. It 



THE HELL SHIP 

was all he could do to open it, but 
once in the compaiiionway oiitside» 
he found that lie could crawl along 
one wall, off the floor, in an incli- 
iBg progress. He? ma,cie it finally to 
the control room, and forced Ms 
'body around the door jamb and ia- 
sicle. Against the far wall Maher 
was plastered, dazed, but conscious. 
At his feet lay Heinie, his head 
crushed, obviously dead. 

"Cut off the rest of the jets!'* 
gasped Mailer. "I can't make it!" 

Cj-ene crawled slowly around the 
roorq, following the wall, until 
he could reach the controls, then he 
pulled the lever that controlled tlie 
Jet blast. The ship's 'unnatural 
veering stopped instantly and Ijotli 
Maher and Gene dropped heavily 
to the floor. 

Gene was up first and helped 
Maher to liis feet. Together they 
turned to the indicators, 

"Passenger deck's out!" said 
Maher. "Except for a few compart- 
ments. The automatic seals have 
operated. But there must be some- 
body left alive in them." 

"We've got to get them/' said 
Geac. "But first, we'¥e got to check 
up on what damage has been done 
here, and how many casualties we 
have." 

"Helnie's dead," said Maher. 
"He hit the ivall with his li.ead." 

Gene shuddered, and Seep in his 
stomach nausea cliumed. 'Me 
thought of Ann and hi.5 blood froze 
in his veins, "You take below decks, 
I'll go up," he said. Aim's cabin 
was on the deck above. 

Maher nodded and staggered 
away. Gene scrambled up the stair- 
m'dl as fast as lie could, and ran 



125 

clown tile corridor. At Ann's door 
he stopped, turBecl the knob. The 
door opeaed. The room was empty. 

Suddenly he heard running foot- 
steps, and Ann threw herself into 
his arms, sobbing. 

"Where were you?" he asked, 
almost savagely. 

"I m'eiit to your cabin, to see if 
you \m:.te hurt. What happened to 
the ship?" 

"Meteorite hit us. Kn«:ked out 
the passenger deck. Moist of the 
jaassengers will be dead, but we've 
got to go in and rescue the sur- 
¥ivors." 

Doors were opening here and 
there and the crew members able 
to make it "iwere congregating 
around them. They went to the 
recreation room. There ■ Gene 
counted noses. Five crewmen were 
missing. Of those present, six men- 
were injured, and one woman ex- 
liibited a black eye, accentuating 
lier other abnormalities. The three 
prisoners were re{:Jortcd unliarmed. 

"Wliat about tiie missing men?" 
Gene asked. 

"Three dead," Maher replied, 
"two badly hurt We'll need some- 
body to look after them." 

"I'll go," volunteered Ann. The 
woman in lur ste|3pcd forward also, 
and they left' the room behind 
Maher and Sr.liwenky. 

Gene faced tile rest. "We've got 
a real problem now. With a re- 
duced crew, we'll have to finish a 
trip that would have been tough 
with an uninjured ship. But ir.st, 
we've got to ■ search the pa-ssenger 
deck and remove the survivors. All 
of you who are able, put on pres- 
sure suits and come with me." 



130 

Hfi led the way -to the locker con- 
taining tlie pressure suits. Seven 
men, those who were not tew de- 
formed to don the suits, made up 
the party. Gene led the way to the 
Captain's stateroom, ordered the 
door sealed behind thern,, then 
opened the only door to the dam- 
aged deck. Tlie air rushed out as 
the door swung open, and suddenly 
complete silence descended upon 
them. There would be nO' more 
communication betweea them ex- 
cept for sigms. 

Ill an hour they had determined 
the truth. All passengers but one, 
a wonian, Iiad been killed instant- 
ly. The woman was unconscious, 
but suffering only from bruises. It 
Iiad been nece.«ary, after ciiscover- 
ing her unpierced cabin, to return 
to the deck above and cut through 
with a torch. 

When she regained consciousness 
&tid skw her rescuers, she screamed. 

"That'll give us some idea of how 
the people back on lartli will re- 
ceive us," said Gene. "If we get 
there, that is." 

Later, in the control room, 
Maher and MacMamara ga?e their 
report. 

"We can make it/' said Mac- 
Namara, "but we'll come Ih limp- 
ing like a wounded moose. If any 
of the Company ships ■ sight lis, 
we'll be a atting cluck. But maybe 
it will be better that way. This is 
like war, and some of us must 
die . . ." His Yoice trailed off in a 
mumble. '' 

"Some of us are dying," said 
Maher. "But lie's right, Gene; we 
call make it, with luck. We'll not 
be able to come in fast, nor land iti 



V f 



f 



wm 



the city, but we'll make it to Earth." 
'•That's enough," decided Gene. 
"If we can land near Chicago, I 
think I can manage tlie rest" 

Tliey turned to the controls, and 
MacNamara m^ent back to Ms pile 
room. Once more the ship limped 
on. this time directly toward the 
liail of Earth, lootoing a scant 
twenty million miles away. 



IT TOOK eight days to come 
\¥ithiii, a million miles of tlieir 
goal. Then tragedy struck again. . 
The cabin on the passenger deck 
from wliicli tliey had removed the 
sole sur¥ivor blew its door, and the 
air on the deck above mslied out 
through the hole they had burned 
into the cabin. It had been forgot- 
ten, and it meant the lives of three 
iiMjre ciew members. 

Tlien, as they prepared to bring 
the ship intd the atmospiiere, 
Maher, peering through tlie tele- 
scope, let out a shout. "Company 
ship, coming up fa-stl They're after 
us!" 

Gene leaped to tlie telescope and 
peered through. Far to the left, a 
glowing silver streak in Ae sky, was 
the familiar shape of a space ^ ship, 
growing larger by. the minute. 
Studying it, Gene saw that it was 
an •armed cruiser, 

"They've got wise," said Maher. 
"I thought tliey would, whea we 
didn't check In at lo. Probably 
radioed back to lie on the lookout 
for us." 

"Call MacNamara," said Gene. 
"We've got to see if he can, set us 
down faster. Maybe there's mine 
way to step up that pile." 



THE HELL SHIP 



131 



Mailer rushed off, and Ann came 
in. "What's up?" she asked. 

"Cruiser after us," said Gene, 
Ms face grim. "Looks like we 'won't 
get to Chicago unless MacNamara 
has something up that old sleeve of 
Ms." 

Ann went white, and together 
they waited for the old Engineer. 

When lie came in, Gene gestured 
to the telescope. "Take a Ic»k." 

MacNamara scuiinted through 
the eyepiece with liis double pop- 
eyes. "Don't see a tiling," lie 
grumbled. 

"Well, it's a Company Cruiser, 
gunned to the limit. She's going to 
be near enough to slioot us down in 
about tliree hours." 

"Three hours, you say?" Mac- 
Namara scratched M.s head. "How 
near we to Earth?" 
'- "Half a million miles," 

"You could make it in the life- 
boat." 

Gene sn,orted. "That Cruiser'd 
shoot down the lifeboat as easy as 
it will the ship— a lot easier." 

"If they can catch yoii," said 
MacNatmara. "Sonie of us must die, 
that the rest may live." 

"Don't start. that again, Mac," 
said Maher impatiently. "What we 
want to know is whether you, cao 
soup up that pile so we can beat 
ttiat Cruiser down to Earth?" 

"Not a thing I can do," said the 
Chief Engineer. "We've only one 
set of tubes. Full power would 
shoot us all over tlie sky. But I can 
do something as good," 

"What?" ^ 

The old Engineer considered 
them through hl.s double eyes. 
"The rest of vou'll taJce the lifeboat 



and make for Earth. T'll remain 
here on the ship and shield your 
flight. I'm sure I can hide the lit- 
tle boat for awhile, and then, even 
with one jet, I think I can delay 
the cruiser until you get away. 
Someone's got to make a sacrifice, 
I'm old, and 1 didn't want any of 
ttiis to begin with. 

MahcT gasped. "Mac, you old 
fool, D'ya mind if 1 apologize for 
%¥}iat I just said? But you're right, 
that'.s a possible an.swcr. Only I'll 
be the one to stay." 

"Do you know how to adjust the 
pile and the jet.s to make a weapon 
out of them?" a.sked MacNamara. 

"No . . ." l>egaii Maher. 

MacNamara grinned. "Nor am I 
going to tell you! So, you see, you 
can't be the one to stay." 

Maher gripped the old man's 
hand and pumped it. "You win," 
he said. "You old . . . crackpot!" 
There was real affection in his 
voice. 

"Then be ofF with you/' said the 
Chief Engineer. "You've not a min- 
ute to lose. Every man jack of you 
into the boat, including the Cap- 
tain and the Mates. I'll not iiave 
my ship cluttered up with extra 
hands that might cramp my 
style. . ," And turning, the old man 
made his way back to the pile roony, 
mumbling to himself. 

Eyes wet, Gene ga¥e the order.s 
to abandon ship, and within thirty 
minutes every living soul was 
aljoard the lifeboat. 

MacNamara had finished his 
work with the pile and was back in 
the control room, waiting for the 
lifeboat to cast oft. As it did so, he 
*a¥ed, then turned to the conliols. 



132 

As the lifeboat darted away on 
its chemical jet engines, they could 
see tie old man maneuvering the 
big sliip so as to keep it ever be- 
tween them and the Cruiser. An 
hour later when they were within a 
hundred thousand miles of Eartli, 
MacNamafa sent up a flare denot- 
ing surrender. 

Tensely they watched the distant 
speck of light that was the ship 
with MacMamara on . it Then, 
around its side canie tlie Company 
Cruiser, steering in toward it to 
make the capture. It was scarcely 
a thousand miles from tlie disabled 
sMp. Gradually it lirem' closer, then 
edged in. Now it was oaly a few " 
miles away, and at tlii.s distance, 
both specks seemed to merge., 

"They got Mm!" Maher said. 

"Yah!" Schwenlty boomed, dis- 
appointment in Ills voice. "Me, I 
sholiM have heea the one to stay. I 
would slap theni." 

Suddenly, out in space, a briglit 
iower grew. A flo*er of incan- 
descent light that blossomed with 
terrifying rapidity, until it seemed 
to engulf all space in the area of 
tile two ships. The familiar sphere 
of brilliaiice that marked an ex- 
ploding atoni tjomb hung there in 
the heavens an instant, .then it was 
gone. In its place was only a vast 
cloud of smoke, the dust and scat- 
tered atoms that were all that re- 
mained of two gigantic space ships. 

"He detonated the pile!" said 
Gene, "He turoed himself into an 
atom faomBf' 

"Yalil" said Schwenky, his voice 
strangely muted. "Yah!" Awkward- 
ly he turned and patted Ann's head 
as she began to sob. 



RAY PALMER 

IS IT NOT handsome?" asked 
Schwenky proudly, holding the 
front page of the newspaper up for 
all to *e. "I have my picture in 
the paper! Is it not nice?" 

Laughing, Ann ki.ssed the big 
Swede right on the lips, and hugged 
Mm, paper and all "It's beautiful, 
you big lug!" she said. "The hand- 
somest picture IVe ever seen in any 
paper." 

"Nah!" denied Schwenky. "It is 
not tlie handsomest. All of us have 
our pictures in the paper. We are 
all ¥e,ry good lookifig! Not c>nly 
Schwenky. Is it not so. Gene, my 
friend?" _ _ - 

Gene grinned at Mm, and at the 
otliers. Maher pounded him on 
the back, and over the uproar 
came the voice of the editor of the 
Sentinel "Telephone- for Mr. 
Schwenhy!" 

Schwenky looked dazed, cocked 
his big cars at the editor. "For 
Schwenky?" he asked .stupidly. 
"Telephone? Who would call 
Schwenky oti the telephone?" 

"How do I know?" said the edi- 
tor. "It's some lady . . ." He thrust 
the phone into the big Swede's 
hand. 

"Lady?" said Schwenty woBder- 
ingly, "Hello . . . lady . . ." he spoke 
into the receiver, his booming %'oice 
making it rattle. 

"The other , . .'* began Gene, 
then desisted. "Never mind, she'll 
hear you,. . ." 

"What? You wiint to marry me? 
Lady . . ." Schweoky's eyes bulged 
e¥en more, and he roared into the 
transmitter. "Lady! You wait! I 
come!" He thrust the phone into 
the editor's hands and made for 



THE HELL SHIP 

the door like a lumbering bull. 

"Where you going?" yelled 
Gene, 

Schwenky lialt:ed, turned with a 
big grin. "I go to marry lady. She 
asked me to become my wife!" 

"Where is she?" asked Gene. 
"Where are you goinff to nieet 
her?" ■'■ ■ 

Sdiwenky looked stupidly at the 
now silent phone. "By golly! I for- 
get to ask lier!" There was tragedy 
in his voice. "Now I never find 
her!" 

The editor laughed. "Never 
mind — you'll get a hundred more 
proposals before the clay's over. 
You can take your pick!" 

Schwenky's eyes opened wide. 
Then he grinned again. "Yah!" he 
roared.' "I take my pick! She will 
be to beautiful! Yah!" 

The chatter of the teletype in- 
terrupted him, and the editor 
'turned to watch the tape as it came 
from the machine. The he began 
to read: 

"Washington. April 23. President 
Walworth has grounded all space- 
ships and ordered all those enroute 
to proceed to the nearest port. A 
Congressional committee has been 
picked, including top members of 
the cabinet, to investigate tlie ships. 



133 

the atomic drives, and the system 
of secret slavery among crews. In 
a .statement to the Press, President 
Walwortii said that space travel 
will not be resumed' until proper 
sihieltls are developed. But he added 
that he had been informed by lead- 
ing physicists that the problem can 
be .solved within a year if sufficient 
funds were available. Said the 
President : 'I will .see that the funds 
are made available !' " 

The editor dropped the tape and 
, turned to Gene. "I have one more 
bit of information, this one direct 
from, the President by phone. He 
has asked me to inform you that he 
has appointed you new head of 
FAST." 

"FAST?" ashed Gene, "What's 
that?" 

"Federal Agency for Space 
Travel," grinned the editor. "And 
congratulatioris. I hate to lose a 
good reporter, but maybe you'll he 
back after you finish in WajsHng- 

ton- at a substantial increase in 

salary." 

Gene grinned back. "Maybe 1" 
will," he 'said. "And I'll need the 
. money." He put tin arm around 
Ann and drew her to him. "Two 
can't livt as cheap as one, you 
know." 



- THE EKD - 



mmmi^^mmmm^m0m^ 



m,,^):^mmS«^<k^^§immmm^^iii^mmmmm» 



Personalities ■ 

IN SCIENCE FICTION 



BOB [L'iKFK . . 
sNcws l.erttri Coxti 
tlie Ikld 



Uk 



WILSON (BOB) TUCKER 
is a very petsonable young 
man who lives in P.O. Box 702, 
Bloomington, Illinois. Since 1934, 
he has labored mightily and thaiift- 
lessly to evolve and create the 
"Science Fiction News Letter." 
This, according to Bob's 'letterheacl 
is "the leading newspaper of the 
science fiction world." 

The first item in the oldest Issue 
of this newsletter we have at hand 
(Feb. 1946) reads: 

FLASH! (fjm-stu§:) New^ semi- 
slick fantasf and scific magazine 
to appear soon. Details scarce and 
confidential. Mag will follow gen- 
eral format of Time. Title not yet 
chosen. 

And an item from the last issue 
on our desk: 

A group eif fen in . . . the Caro- 
iinas have organized a . . .'fan club 
called The Little Monsters of 
America and published the first 
issue of their bulletin. For those un- 



;,..'//' u 1 ! . Lrtli Ai.ifntti'-: 
l.MUt H.J.i-i I- -li'iJ W. BJl St., 
StiilesuiUe, iV. L. 

The two items quoted are not 
neces.sarily representative of . tlie 
broader content of Bob Tucker s 
newsletter. But Bob Tiick«ir is cer- 
tainly representative of that broad 
arid interesting brdtlierhood-^the 
science-fiction fan clubs. £veii the 
moreso because his newsletter rep- 
resents no single club, but caters to 
the many hundreds of them all oi/er 
the world. 

An examination of the letter 
shows it to be neatly almost pro- 
fessionally done. But more thab 
this, it sliows the heart and soul, 
the work and sweat that goes into 
it. Bob's circulation has risen from 
a handful of giveaway,s in 1934 to 
a paid circuM'tioii in 1951 of 450 
copies. This rise is probably indici- 
tive of two factors: The .increased 
public interest in science-fiction, 
and Tucker's amazing grit, cour- 
age, or maybe plain bulHieaded- 
ness. 

Bob Tucker is not a monopolist 
by any means. He ^ has competition 
which has no doubt put a few gray 
hairs in his 37-year-old head. There 
is James Taurasi, in New York who 



134 



BOB TUCKER ' ' 

appears to specialize in flash infor- 
mation from the professional 
science-fiction editors and who will 
pen- the guest editorial iii the next 
issue of IF. There is also Captain 
KLen Slater of England, whose very 
able newsletter circulates about 250 
copies throughout the world. And 
there are .no doubt others. 



WE BELIEVE, at this point, 
twOj questions arise in the 
mind of the casual non-letter-writ- 
ing reader of science-fiction, who 
makes up, of*tourse, the vast bulk 
of the field's paid circulation. 

First, why do these amateur 
newsmen do it? Why does Bob 
Tucker beat out his brains year 
after year in this strange manner? 
Profit? We are' sure this is not the 
case. Tucker's letter is ■ issued bi- 
monthly- and sells for 15c a copy. 
He could make more -money 're- 
decorating old bird houses. Vanity? 
Certainly not in the case of Wilson 
Tucker, who has written six novels 
— five of which are oddly enough, 
detective yarns and only one a 
science-fiction story — since 1945 
and iTxUst be far more widely 
known for' his fiction than Ms stf 
news reporting. Personal satisfac- 
tion? 

That, in our opinion, is it. And ' 
it also answer.? for us, the second 
question of the casual reader; 
Why science-fiction , fan clubs? 
They have been described learned- 
ly by objective writers in various 
terms, the loftiest of which may 
•^yell be "The phenomenon of sci- 
ence-fiction." Frankly, we see no- 
phenomenon whatever in the move- 



135* 

ment unless the term is also applied 
to movie star fan clubs, sports fans,, 
stamp collectors, and any other 
segment of hobbyists. 

In short, science-fiction appears 
to be a hobby with a large follow- 
ing "of sane, healthy-minded en- 
thusiasts who band .together 
through tlie natural manner to dis- 
cuss their, mutual interests. In fact 
the principle error here is in using 
the term "science-fiction" to define 
their particular field. While one of 
the major cc3hesive forces relative 
to this hobby fs the-' professional 
science-fiction magazine, many of 
the fen are thoroughly at home- 
with the dry-as-dust higher' mathe- 
matics, abstract equations, and 
technical data which have no place 
in magazines dedicated to pure en- 
tertainment and .seldom appear 
there. An item noted in Tucker's 
newsletter • inforrEcd us that a stf 
fan wrote to a fairly well-known 
scientist named Ein.stejn, received 
a reply, and that -^ the fan's local 
club spent ejitire session digesting 
that' reply. 



A GREAT DEAL has also been 
said about the "lunatic 
fringe" of stf faiidom. Beyond all 
doubt, .such a fringe exists, even to 
a point that the Post Office autliori* 
ties last year banned a fanzine from 
'the mails. However, 'this segroent 
exists in aImo.st every field of mass 
enthusiasm. And we feel the stf 
fanatic is far less spectacular tha'ii, 
say, the baseball extrovert. We have 
yet to hear of an stf fan sitting all 
night on the sidewalk wrapped in 
a blanket waiting for a club meet- 



136 

ing to start. ¥et this "phenomenon" 
can be observed unfailingly every 
year in front of a world series 
stadium. 

Iq case the reader may interpret 
tlje foregoing as IF's invitatipii to 
the fan clubs into a nnitual admira- 
tion society, it's not true, and we 
ask Bob Tucker and his clansmen 
to read further. As an individiial, 
we admire them very much, but as 
editor of IF, a magazine dedicated 
to entertainment and tlieiice to^ a 
publisher's profit, we can only 
quote the able Sam Merwin who 
bowed out of THRILLING WON- 
DER STORIES' editorial chair 
witli tile following comment in the 
October '5 1 issue of that magazine : 

". . . fans ms such make up a aery 
small percentage of our net paid 
circulation. The magazine is ac- 
tually supported by a much less 
actttiefy zealous and vociferous 
readership. Thus we have given the 
fans space in the deliberdte hope 
and intention of making their antics 
entertaining to atJeast a fair pro- 
portion of the larger, less-fannish 
readership." 



PERSONALITIES - 

We did not see the foregoing re- 
ported in Tucker's newsletter. An 
oversight no doubt. But Bob cer- 
tainly knows that Sam Merwin is a 
man who — by his own admission — • 
considered "tlic trading of reason- 
ably ingenious insults a delightful 
pastime". Therefore we think we 
could, witli Sam's consent, substi- 
tute "their affairs interesting" for 
"their antics entertaining" in the 
'above quotation. And with the sub- 
stitution we've probably quoted 
from Sain_, the policy of ninety-nine 
percent of the profefcional stf mag 
editors, although few of them have 
exhibited eitlier Sam's courage or 
his desire to give up editing;. 

Frankly, we don't think the faBS 
need the pro mags as much, as they 
appear to. We feel that if all paper 
supplies were suddenly needed to^ 
make blotters for the Pentagoti 
and the pro mags thus ceased to 
be. Bob Tucker and his science- 
fiction, fans would go merrily on 
their way, getting together to dis- 
cuss atom bombs, guided proj'ec- 
tileSj space platforms and other 
things far beyond the layman's ken. 



Mext Months Personality: 
RAYMOND A. P,ALMIR 

A PERTINENT and searching article on the man 
who has been called "Tfie High-Priest' of Science- 
Fiction." He rocketed Sha%'er to fame — ga¥e tlie 
m-'orld tilt bitterly controversial Shaver Mystery. 
But how many people really know Palriifir? Get the 
facts 111 tile May issue of ,IF. 



They opened the ruins to tourists at a dollar 
a head but they reckoned without . . . 

The OLD 
MARTIAIVS 

^- ' By Bug Phillips 



THE MAN witli the pith hel- 
met had his back toward 
me. Hunched forward, he 
was screaming at the girl in the 
lens of his camera. "Don't just 
stand there, Dotty! Move! Do 
something! -Back up toward that 
column with inscriptions on it . , ." 
The girl was tall and longlegged 
with ideal body proportions, her 
features and skin coloring a perfect 
norm-blend with no tfirowback 
elements. Right now she seemed 
confused and "half -fiiglitened as she 
tried to comply with the directions 
of tile man with the movie camera, 
She smiled artificially, turned her 
head to look at the fragment of a 
wall behind her, reached out with 
a finger and started tracing the 
lines of an almost obliterated in- 
scription in its stone surface. 

The camera stopped whirring. 
Its owner straightened and eriim- 
bled, "That's all" 



Now the girl was allowed to go 
back to her worrying. Swiftly she 
surveyed the crowd, but didn't find 
the perison she was looking for. She 
started moving toward one of the 
arches that led deeper into the 
ruins. 

h followed her sloivly. 

She pa&sed through the arch, 
stopped, and turned her head to- 
ward the right, her eyes on some- 
thing out of sight. She'd found Mm, 
but she saw me at the same time 
and her worry deepened. 

When she moved back into the 
crowd, I strolled casually through 
the archway. 

There was a ¥aguely defined 
passageway, the roof over it gone 
for half a million years, of course. 
And twenty feet away, oblivious of 
his surroundings except for what 
was directly in front of hirtij was 
my man. 

His height and build were somc- 



137 



138 

\vhat less than the norm. But it 
was his profile that drew my at- ' 
teetion. A remarkatile throwback; 
a throwback of a distinct type. 

In fact, he might well have 
served as the model in the types 
textbooks labeled British. The re- 
semblance %vas subtle. Only one 
trained to differentiate woulcl ^ ever 
have noticed it. 

I let my attention, take in his 
whole figure. Itis elbows had a 
habit of making fluttery movements 
when his exploring liaads paused 
so tliat a' strange birdlike impres- 
sion was given. Also an air of iiii- 
gaiiiliness in the lines of the lean 
body, rather than the feline 
sinootlmess and grace of the norm- 
blend. It was so ill keeping with 
his features thut it ser¥ed to 
strengthen the psycho diagnosis. 

A throwback to an era. ten thou- 
sand years in the paiJt, and there- 
fore, as the textbooks say, prone tO' 
mental instability. It was no won- 
der tliat the girl called Dotty had 
had the air of being perpetually 
worried! 

She appeared now, from the far 
side of the ruin and approached 
the man. 

He sensed rather than saw her 
and straightened up, ei'ery line of 
him etched with excitement. 

"Dotty!" he said. "I've found it. 
IVe found the proof. I've been 
here before, thoiisaiids of years ago 
-when this wasn't a mills. I w- 
merhber." 

The girl's manner reflected 
weariness. "Please, Herb. You've 
got to forget all about it. You'll talk 
too much!" 

His shoulders stiffened. "Don't 



ROG PHILLIPS 

worry. I won't talk until I have 
proof to convince even tlieni. 
Somewhere around here something 
lies buried. Something I will be 
able to reineinhfer. They will dig 
where the rocks ■ haven't been 
toiiclied for five thousand centuries 
and find what I say is there." 

Dotty was shaking her head. 
"No, Herb. If it were on Earth I 
might half believe you. But not 
here on Mars. These — these peo- 
ple weren't even humanoid!" 

"Neither mm I," Herb whispered 
hoarsely. 

..... I siglied regretfully. I'd seen too 
many casfes like this one. I'd grown 
to dread them. But it was a job and 
a man had to eat. 



THE GUIDE began herding tlie 
tourists back to tl'ie bus. I min- 
gled with the crowd, and when 
Dotty and Herb • climbed . aboard I 
iHanaged' to stick close to them. 

"Where'd you two go to?" the 
man in the pith helmet called 
from where he was sitting. "Stick 
close to me. I put a new role in the 
camera. At the next place I want 
to get some shots of both of you to- 
gether." 

"All right, George/' Dotty sai.d 
obediently. 

She 'and Herb were forced ^to 
find separate seats. They would do 
DO talking, sd I faced around and 
studied the three alternately.' The 
man in the pith helmet, George, 
was a iiormat blend ; totally uncon- 
cerned about his reactions on oth- 
ers so long as he could pursue M.s 
hobby. 

The bus detoilted i roped-dlt 



If this mm a Ci '•;- - 
tery, the old iLf- 
tians should /{«?•< 
been here. But thfu- 
loere no aoices- — nt> 
bones. 




14© 



ROG PHILLIPS 



.!!»*;! ill tlir i>nt'.t ci xlv .»t.'iiiJl 
Ats tlii paii .'u-itltr'd l.i.« <!.m 

fif^. And madf' •[•> •,!•, kh*- nt fin- 
noitiiejii tdt'i- v-i a, *!•;-" 1m tli*-' p.ift 
!ts,'it if^riiibt d ri'(" -jii. "'iif . '■!!ii'- 
leiiii i« E..i;li Jbi oui) ii.njo/ 
diff«n 'til!' ,■ li^ >h.f 'hw •\^h' tiu 
rPiii.siiis iiiidt't il'P -\>"!'. »j\v t'l 
Ntone- riif-K A 1', •••lilt ilr<.il>t mat 
it had }>f('n ;i n'bi.-'oi- . But the 

tli.-r .ii> I'uij • . it.i'ii"' >- iii(- hii- . jtif 

! I il- r I 

1- 

iji .'lirl lii'il.f. 



r<' a trip b 'J :. ptiH . Hi 
oil fl"ib Mt' fftf.Hi Li^ f'j'l" 



ii'i A hiHii<i_ 



L... 



I aI-i'.i 'd )l.' uUi kI. H» L^'- !< 



•!uili 

Mm. in earshot. 

lie protested when G,eorge- in- 
sisted on taking cameri shots, then 
gave in ari'd cooperated in order to' 
get it over with. 

Finally Georfe snapped Iiis 
camera shut. Herb mumbled some- 
thing to Dotty that I didn't catch, 
arid started down one of the lanes 
between imks of stontes as though 
lietded for a definite goal 

1 efiitldii't ¥ery well follow aftei- 
tliey leff tlie main group'. It would 
have befell obvious. Iiisteadj I 
veered crfF to one side, gambling 
that wlien tliey reached their desti- 
nation I would lie afjle to read tlieir 
lips. 

'I got well ■ aw'ay from stragglers 
and toojt out my Hiiiroscbpe, point- 
ing ii off in. the distance and swing- 
ing the objective lens around ontil 
it centered on them. I was lucky. 
They were facing in my direction. 

"It iso't a cemetery," Herb was 
saying with emphatic motions of his 
hands. "It was a parking area, and 



tin-- \t(.;>f i»a>. v.xi.-!(- 1 parked my 
aji^lfd. I I ill if-i.i'-mber it as 
thttii';h il -rti i, ' .:-i'Uy." . 

I >i i(i ',. .iiNj^ti 'L'i man's sub-, 
KB-ii. <')^ il .. '• . remarkably 



'!•!.'. 



,1 



nil ' 



i 1.- 



■"Its wouldn't 



p ds jKifi,4 wi'-L i'. i 'it theywouM 



a'"le tO' prove 
.imt. But Dotty 



f ii.i HI 'Up in) i! ji 

-• jv ti"uis'J •iifn i.iiii. "How can' 
\.,.ii nrs'V" It nj . fMikirig area?" 
11<t r\L-> svAivd IT, er the .large 
h^lrl uiili il i^riJarly spaced 
'!<,iii-s "li: Li^i'.uius ('loKs imprac- 

■•f'l-t thf j(.'^. that's what it ■ 
,, = 1 >.i4i I hjci 1 jiovel here. I 

, It. '«' > ui'iii'ii-' i liryitig soiiie- 
thing liear my stone. It I could find 
that it m'oulct prove I really remehi- 
ber." ■ ■ ■ ... 

"Why don't you forget it?" 'Dotty 
pleaded. "After all, even if it were 
tme, wliat docs it matter now?" 

"It matters to me. Ever since', 
we arrived here I've seen famih'ar 
things. Too familiar to be coinci- 
dence. I never felt this way before. 
1 always considered reincarnation 
as ancient stipef.stitious belief, jtist 
'lilse everyone else. But not an,y 
more.. I know. I lived here when all 
this wa.s new." 

"But can't you just be satisfied to 
feel that you did and let it go at 
that?" Dotty asked. "I'm afraid of 
▼,'hat they would do^ to you if they 
found out what you're thinking." 

"Hah!" Herb snorted. "I have a 
feeling that before we leave Mars 
I'll be able to prove it to thfcni. 
^Somewhere in this city-is .soinetfaiiig 
'that only I l5;now.,exists. It's kidden 
under stones that haven't been dis- 
.turbed since man first set foot on 



THE OLD MARTIANS 

the planet. It isn't entirely clear 
yet, but it will come — it will come. 
Then I'll make thern listen. They'll 
dig, and tliey'll find what I say is 
there. You wait and see," 

"They'll lockyyou up, darling," 
Dotty, said. "They won't believe 
ydii." 

The guide was calling everyone 
back to. the bus. I watched Herb 
scowl fiercely at the stone iiiarMer 
that fie belie¥ed to have been his, 
open 'his mouth to say som.ethinf, 
then turn away sO' that his lips were 
out of sight. Regretfully I put the 
mirroscope away and went back to 
the bus. 



I KNEW WHERE we were go- 
ing next, and I was uneasy 
aboiit it. Herb and Dotty managed 
to sit together and I got a place 
right beliiiid ttem where I could 
eavesdrop. But tliey sat in silence. 

The-biis had left the ancient city 
Ijeliirid, to head out over the desert 
toward one of tlic few structures on 
Mar.s which, had witlistoocl the rav- 
ages of time witlioiit crumbling." A,ri 
imrn,eiise dome of solid concrete re- 
inforced with pure copper rods 
harder than, steel. The Martians 
Kacl know what Eartli civilization 
didn't learn until around the year 
three thousand: that copper can't 
be tempered, but pure copper be- 
comes tempered of itself in a tlioii- 
sarid years. 

That immen.se dome was a 
honeycomb of passageways and 
rooms, some of which ,v/ere not 
open to tourists. ^It would be a nat- 
ural for Herb. 

The bus stopped. The people 



141 

were piling out and staring curious- 
ly at the smooth surfacfe of t!i€ 
dome. Especially at places where 
tile reinforcement rods were pro- 
truding and glittering like tariiisKeB 
gold. ' 

Two of ttie pfeniiatient giiards. 
had come out to talte charge of tbe 
tour. I caugiit the eye of oiie of 
tlieiii and nodded toward Herb, 
The guard caught my riieariifig,- 
edged over to his partner, and soon 
both men were warned that Hel-B 
v/as tO' 'be closely watched. 

I felt better, knowing that a cou- 
ple of others knew about him. May- 
be it would have bfeeii sitiartei* io 
have taken him in .custody right 
then. But it would have meant a 
scene. 

The procedure of the tour was 
for die guide to do all tlie talking, 
leading the procession thrdiigh the 
roped off parts of the doiiie, wfiile 
the two guards followed ■ along be- 
hind to make sure no stragglers got 
left. 

I let three or foiir people riiove 
in front of me so Herb wouldn't get 
siispiclous. Dotty was sticldng close 
to him, plainly worried. Aitd fie wis 
more excited thitn he had been, it 
any of. the other spoti?. He fairly 
quivered, Iii.s eyes catessiiig the 
walls with a fevered look. 

Dotty didn't ■mm Ks Increase 
agitation. • Especially after lie wliis- 
percd in. her ear a cdtiplfe of times. 

The guide 'tcfoK the usual path. 
Straight into flie dtiine. pausing. at 
half a ddzeii siitall rboins wltli 
cafvfed walls, to arrive at a bank of 
elevatots iti.stalled in the exact cei- ■ 
tet] then straight Up to the roof and 
the observation pl^tf^rin ffijfn 



142 

which miles and miles of desert and 
ruins could be seen. Then back 
down to .the second level, a zig-zag 
course through other rooms, and 
finally down a flight of steps to 
where the tour started. 

I kept my eyes on the back of 
Herb's head. You can tell a lot by 
doing that. At first his head turned 
this way and that, indicating he was 
full of curiosity. I was waiting for 
that telltale sudden tensing, with 
the head directed at some spot, that 
would tell of a sudden "memory" 
stirring in the man's mind. 

I almost missed it when it came, 
because it was between two pas- 
.sages — a blank wall. The briefest 
pause, then Herb was going on 
again as though nothing had hap- 
pened. 

But now his head had stopped its 
curiosit¥-moti%'ated pi¥Otings. It 
was the head of a man who was no 
longer curious — who has made up 
his mind, about something. I didn't 
like it. 

And -when the group emerged 
Into open air once more without 
Herb having tried anything I knew 
as certainly as I had ever known 
anything that he iatCBded coming 
back here, aad soon. 

In the' comfort station before 
boarding the bus I scrawled a hasty 
note to the guards to investigate the 
spot halfway between passageways 
14 and 15 on the firsfe level, and 
slipped it to one of them as I passed 
hini to get on the bus. 

We visited four other spots on 
the lour. Whco Herb showed no 
real interest in them it only clinched 
what I was already sure of, that he 
planned on returning. 



ROG PHILLIPS 

AT THE Ancient City Hotel 
once again, I gave the high, sign, 
and shortly Herb and Dotty were 
being watched by capable men, 
leaving me free to go to my room. 

Obcc there, I called the dome. 
They were just getting the X-ray 
setup in place to explore that wall , 
and promised to call me as soon as 
they were finished. Next I called 
€.1. and made my report. I was still 
making it when the operator broke 
in. 

"Steve Menit wants to talk to 
you/' she 'said crisply. 

"Make the circuit three way," I 
.said. 

Steve's voice came in. "I had to 
get to you, Joe. This guy Herb and 
his wife just left the hotel." 

"C.I.'s Ustening too," I said. 
"Did tiicy say anything tliat would 
point to where they're going?" 

"To the cemetery first. He 
swiped a couple of knives and forks 
%vhen they finished eating their din- 
ner. Maybe for weapons." 

"I doubt that;'_ I said. "But I 
think it's time to pick him up. He's 
got to be committed." 

"Wait a minute," C.I. said, "Joe, 
you catch up with them. Join them 
and play along. Tell this guy Herb 
you overheard him and guessed 
what was going on. Gain Ms con- 
fidence if you can." 

"That's pretty dangerous!" I re- 
plied. "That guy's--" 

"It's orders," G.L said. "Ste¥e, 
you lay tlie net so that whatever 
happens we can contain it." 

That was tliat. Orders. But I still 
didn't like it. 

I went to the desk and took out 
my .compact paralysis ttibe. Then, 



THE OLD MARTIANS 

reluctantly, I put it back. I would 
have to play the part. The paralysis 
tube would give me away as an 
,,agent. It would have to be up to 
Steve and the others to contain the 
threat. 

Down in the lobby I saw Ste¥e 
waiting .impatiently. He was un- 
easy, too. "What's come over CI?" 
They're toying ' with dynamite on 
this.'* 

"I think I know what they 
want, tKey want to let 'him go far 
enough so we can see more of the 
nature of the danger. And 1 hope 
nobody gets ■killed. They should 
have spotted this. Herb guy and not 
let him come here at all. I suspect 
they did spot him, and let him come 
to cotiduct another of their damned 
experiments. They don't want to 
leave well enough aJorie." 

We were outside now. No one 
was around. The sun was just be- 
ginning to set, and the instant it 
disappeared the night would be 
pitch-black. Even if oae of the 
moons was out.' 

"We'll be watching on the stand- 
ard C.I. band," Steve assurecl_ me. 
"They're at the 'temple right now, 
waiting for it to get dark." He 
grinned. "Good luck." There was a 
mixture of genuineness, half rncitk- 
ery, and worry in his voice. 

At the temple ruios I found tliern 
easily enough and took the simple.st 
course. I walked right up to theiti. 

"Hello," 1 said. "I thought Td 
fifld you here. I watit to go along 
with you. I'm iiitetcsted." 

"What do you mean?" Herb Was 
hostile and suspicious. 

"You remembef me. I %¥a.s oil the 
toiir tliis aftfeiiooii. I accideiitdly. 



iM ' 

overheard you. It would h, -^ ,i' 
thing if reincarnation couitl be 
proven." 

"lilo you believe in reincarna- 
tion?" ' 

I from-ned as though being cau- 
tious. "I don't know." Then 1' put a 
disarming grin on my lips. "Since 
believing in it is legally clas.«fied as 
insanity, for the records, no." It 
wa.s a nice statement It cciiild im- 
ply that I did, and Herb took "that 
implication. He accepted me. Dotty 
was different. 

"How do you know he isn't an 
agent?" she asked Herb uneasily. 

"If I am, the fat's in the fire," I 
told her. "But wouldn't I be IckI;- 
ing him up?" This quieted, but 
didn't satisfy lier. "Anyway," I said, 
"if yoii can dig up .something that 
you remember burying, an extra 
witness won't do any harm. That's 
what you're after, isn't it? Proof 
that will end the last bit of doubt?" 

"That's right/' Herb said. "And, 
you can help me dig." 

"Okay then," I ,«iid. And it wm 
settled.. We introduced ourselves, 
then lapsed into .silence while we 
waited for the sun to set. It wasn't ' 
long. 



THE PLACE looked mate like 
a cernct€»ry than ever in thfe 
eerie glow of black light pencils as 
we made our way aloDg a row of 
stone markers. Herb strode pur- 
posefully. Dotty stuck close to Mm, 
still a little suspicions of me. I 
trailed half a step behind. 

Finally Herb stopped beside ooe 
of the mariers. "This is it/* he said 
softly. I blinked at the marker, then 



144 



ROG PHILLIPS 



at -Herb. It wasn't the one he had 
singled out in the afternoon. Was 
he mixed up? 

If he was he was a good actor. 
He took out one of the dinner 
knives And squatted down and 
started to probe the soil, loos€;ning 
it so that it could be scraped out 
by hand. 

I watched Mm dig. Part of the 
time I helped him, Wc found noth- 
ing. After a reasonable amount of 
this H,',crb stood up with a resigned 
' sigh. "Guess I was wrong," he said. 

"Poor Herby," Dotty said. 

"Yeah, poor Herby," .Herb said 
with every appearance of tiredness 
and defeat. "But^that's that. 
Sorry to have gotten you all excited 
about notliing, Joe. Guess it was 
too much to expect anything." He 
turned to Dotty. "As long as 'we're 
out here, let's take a walk by our- 
selves, Hull?" 

That was as obvious a cue as I 
had ever been handed. Neat. I was 
confronted with the alternatives of 
scraiTiriiiiig or callmg liini a liar. 

"Guess I might as well go back 
to the hotel," I said __ cheerfully. 
"See you in the inorBihg." 

I headed back the way we had 
come until I m'as sure they couldn't 
hear me or see me with their black 
light pencils. Then, ducking down 
next to a marker I waited. After a 
couple of iiiiniites I Iieard cautiou.i 
foasteps. 

♦'It'.s me, Joe^Steve." 

"Good," I grunted. "What are 
'they doing now? They gave me the 
brush-ofr," 

"1 got the play," Steve said. 
"Slick. Should we close in now, or 
wait?" 



"1 think I'll play my part a lit^ 
tie f'lirther. Don't want G.I. to 
think we're timid." 

"Okay," Steve sj|id. "The next 
funeral we attend may be our 
own." 

"Yeah," I said. "It might." 

I moved into the darkness, not 
using my black light pencil, but 
keeping my sensitized gla.sses on so 
I could see Herb's if I got close 
enough. 

I reached the spot where we had 
done the digging. I hesitated, then 
kept on, toward the spot where 
Herb and Dotty had been so en- 
grossed that afternoon. In my 
mind's eye I knew exactly %¥here 
it was. 

My hand.s explored ahead of me, ^ 
searching out each stone marker 
along my path, cHnging to it as I 
passed it, and slipping off as I weiit 
on to the next. They svere my only 
contact with reaHty' in this total 
blackness. 

I was thinking, too. I was think- 
ing of what Herb had said about 
this being a. parking area for air- 
sleds back before the earliest known 
records of man on Earth when this 
city was ahYC. He was probably 
right about it at that. Analysi.s-had 
showH the presence of copper and 
aluminiim in the top surface of 
some of the markers that could 
only be accounted for by some 
metallic object setting atop each 
one long ago, and remaining so that 
molecular and atomic creep could 
set in, carrying sucli atoms deep 
into the surface crystals of the 
stone. 

And I was wondering what it 
was he hoped to dig up. If it were 



THE OLD MARTIANS 

some sort of iveapon it probablf 
wouldn't work after all this time. It 
couldn't! Or couWit? A few things 
had been pieced together about the 
ancient Martian civilization. Mot 
miicli, but enough to be surfe fliat 
they knew a, few things we had 
flever discoTered. They had been 
masters at creating niacMnes with 
no moving parts. The electronic 
devices we had found had proven 
.they knew far more about V.H.F. 
than we did. 

I could see what G.I. was aim- 
ing at now. We might not even 
recognize what Herb was search- 
ing for. It would be better to let 
him find it, and get it from him be- 
fore he coiiH use it. If it was a 
weapon. 

»AiicI it probably was a weapon. I 
was pretty sure his main objective 
was hidden in the wall in the dome, 
'and that tliis thing in the cemetery 
was something that would help 
him get to that objective. 

My thoughts came back to mi- 
surroundings. I was less than a 
dozen feet from where Herb and 
Dotty should be. I stopped. There 
was no trace of black light. I held 
rrlf' breath and listened. And I 
heard the faint scraping of the 
knife against stone. • 



1 WISHED fervently that I had a 
standard C.I. infrascopc so that 
I could see. Steve probably knew 
more of -what was going on than I 
did. I had counted on watching 
Herb by his own Mack light pencil, 
and he was working in darknciss. 

Carefully I stole .forward, inch 
by slot* inch, my ears tuiied for. the 



145 

faintest signiicant sound such as a 
gruBt of satisfaction tliat would tell 
of finding what he was digging for. 

And a million thflughts taunted 
me, thoughts about the latest dis- 
coveries in disintegration frequen- 
cies, thoughts ^ about how little we 
knew of that ancient Martian ciw- 
ilizatitm. 

But also 1 wju figuring what 
Herb would do. Ht would find the 
object he was digging for. Unwit- 
tingly he would grunt his triumph. 
Dotty might forget his strict warn- 
ings to be quiet, and say something. 
Regattlless of that, he would stand 
up slowly, fondling what he had 
foimdj remembering what it was 
and how it worked. There wouM 
be ■ a lev/ seconds before it would 
become a weapon in hi.i hands, sec- 
onds that I had to make 'the most 
use of, and be ready for. 

"Uli!" It wa,s the triunipiant 
grunt I had Itnowii would come. 

Sudden panic made me east 
aside whatever irague plan of ac- 
tion I had had. 

I turned oa my pettcil, bathing 
tlie two in its 'black light. At the 
same time I .said, "I thought it was 
a scheme to get rid of me." 

It 'was the element of surprise 
that saved ine. A still picture of the 
scene the black light disclosed 
etched itself into my mind, There 
was an object' in Herb's hand, A 
strange, meaningless object, dirtj, 
yet with , definite form. It was 
cradled in Ms hand like a weapoa. 
It was pointed almost at me. 

1 dropped my pencil and went 
in lov/, di-ying for Ms legs, I felt the 
air crackle where I had jtist stood. 
As tiif anils encircled his legs I 



!46 

heard thunder exploding nearby. 

Training has its advantages, The 
moment I felt contact with Herb 
that training took over. I jerked 
and rolled in a movement calcu- 
lated to tlirov/ him to the ground 
face down, the motion ending in a 
backbrcaker hold. 

But only a part of my mind was 
concerned with that. The other 
part was frozen with horror. Ap- 
proximately a half acre of the 
cemetery was glowing. I saw Steve 
in the center of it with Herb's 
weapon pointing his way. The veiy 
inertia of matter held Ste¥e to- 
gether for that brief instant, then 
he was falling apart, melting and 
evaporating at the same time, just 
Kke the stone markers and tlie 
ground around Mm. 

I had the thing away from him 
suddenly, aBcl I wondered what to 
do next. Running footsteps gave 
ijie the -answer. It was other CI. 
agents closing in. 

Seconds later tb,ey had Herb un- 
der control. Dotty^ was wringing 
her hands and crying. 

Me, I was holding the tiling, 
afraid to let go of it and afraid to 
keep on holding it. But as the sec- 
oi-ids passed without it exploding 
into destructive action again I be- 
gan to let myself think I might live 
a while longer. 

The area of destruction was 
molteo now. Its heat was like that 
of an open Mast furnace. 

We skirted it and headed toward 
the rcsad, lights in the distance tell- 
ing us that cars were on the way to 
get us. 

I saw Dotty stiiniHe. I took her 
arm., She looked up at me, recog- 



ROG' PHILLIPS 

nized me in the Ught from the 
glowing pool of bubbhng lava, and 
tried to pull away. 

"Take it easy," I said gruffly. 
'Trn your friend, Maybe the only 
friend' you've got here." 

H,er look told me she didn't be- 
lieve me, but she didn't piiU away 
any more. 

We waiied along, and after a 
moment she seemed to struggle tip 
out of her mental paralysis. 

"Herb wa.s right!" she said in a 
low, wondering tone. "He really 
did remember." 

"It was plain coincidence," I 
said "sharply, "and don't ever let 
yourself ttiink differently. He's in- 
sane. It's a recognized form of in- 
sanity. He'll be sent to a good men- 
tal hospital, and" in a year or two 
he'll come out good as new." 

"Coincidence?" she echoed. 
Then she laughed. It wzs mirth 
that drifted quicily into hysterical 
hopelessness. I dug my ■ fingers into 
her flesh until tlie pain brought her 
to her senses. 

"Coincidence," I said. "Nothing 
more. I've seen seventeen cases just 
dike his.. How else did I spot him? I 
recognized the type. None of ' the 
others found what they rational- 
ized themselves into thinking they 
rememhered from the time they 
were Martians, Eventually one of 
them would stumble onto soine- 
tliiiig. That's coincidence. Not in- 
carnated memory." 

She turned her head and blinked 
at me. I nodded ' grimly. "I'm an 
agent," I said. "I go out on the 
tours for one purpose only- — to spot 
psychos and niake sure they don't' 
get out of control. You'd he sur- 



THE OLD MARTIANS 

prised liom' many there are. Some 
of them, like your- husband, prob- 
ably show no sign of instability un- 
til they get here. They look around 
at the evideiice of a CTOlizatioii 
that existed before homo sapiens 
had' evolved on the Eartli, and It 
thtows them. If you want to un- 
derstand more about it read the 
medical boots. They get irrational 
prfe-memories. They look at some- 
tiling and the idea of familiarity 
associates with the new impression. 
Tliey look around a corner and see 
sdmethilig, aiid build up the con-' 
viction that ttiey had co«ciouslf 
known, what was there before they 
looked around tlie corner." 

I felt that I was making head- 
way with her. I waited to. I llad to. 

"You — you say thei'e were oth- 
ers, and they didn't find any- 
thing?" she said. Slie was groping 
for something logical to grasp. I 
had to "give he? that soinetliiilg, 

"That's right," I said. *'And the 
law of averages said that someday 
someone would uncover something 
that's been missed." 

She was nodding slowly now, ac- 
cepting "what I was saying. It was 
authoritative. She would find co» 
firma,tion in authoritative books. If 
she, wanted to pur.sue the subject 
she would find plenty of evidence, 
real evidence, to support 'it It is a 
common form of insanity. It was 
important that she believe that. 

We ,reaclied the road. CI. had 
been prepared. There was a car to 
take her back to the hotel, a sta- 
tioiiwagoii for Herb who was now 
very, submissive and somewhat 
dazed, and a^ third car for me and^ 
my precious cargo. 



147 

TEN MINUTES later 1 was in 
the Science Building ba.«metit, 
laying the thing on a wooden table, 
very gentl|'. It seemed solid, each 
integral part of its form being of & 
different metal. 

None of the iiieti watching me 
lay it down discounted the danger 
,it contained. They knew too much 
abotit how shape and dimension 
can, affect the t;lectrtjiiic properties 
of metal. They knew ttie thing 
probably didn't contain an erg of 
power of its own, but probably trig- 
gered and directed the release of 
cos'tnic energies as yet unknown to 
tliem. 

Tliey stared at -it. Oiifc of them 
readied out to tqudi it, then sldwlf 
drtw his inger tack. 

I could see the decision crystalliz- 
itig in their minds behind their 
serious eyes. This thing would go 
■to-ith the other strange and incom- 
prehensible, machines lockpd in 
vaults in a concrete building far 
out" oil the Martian desert away 
from the tourist trails, of this dead 
planet. It would remain there un- 
til the day when human science ad- 
vanced far enough to uadcrstand it, 

"What about the wall in the 
dome?" I asked. 

"They roped It off. They're 
afraid of it." 

"Did you convince his wife he's 
insane?" one of the science staff 
asked. 

I nodded. "I used the same old 
line. Told her there were- dozens 
like him, and the law of averages 
made it certain; at least one of tltein 
would iitd something." 

He nodded, grinned without liit- 
mor. "How we love to lie." 



148 

I turned away. There was a bit- 
ter taste in my mouth from all the; 
lies I'd told — all the bilge. 

But I knew the tnith, too. I was 
a.s sure of that as I was of any- 
thing. It m'asn't insanity, of course. 
And it wa.sn't reincarnation. It 
seemed to be, because the mind 
has a habit of possessing for its 
very own anything that enters it. 

The triith of the matter was that 
somehow, in some incomprehen- 
sible way, the Martians ^were still 
with us. They hated us and they 
Iciiew how to use our weak ones. 

The old Martians — and their 
science. " 

I took a last look at the weapon 
lying on the table, then left the 
room and climbed the stairs to the 



ROG PHILLIPS- 

first floor. I walked down the silent, 
empty hall to the exit and out into 
the night. 

I let my eyes roam the blackness 
f'oi the lifeless Martian desert. With 
an effort I pulled them away and 
fixed them on the warmth, the hu- 
man warmth, beckoning from the 
hotel. 

I started walking toward that bit 
of comfort, and as I walked the 
eternal question that haunted all of 
us in C.I. hovered in tlie back- 
ground of my thoughts. 

Would we be able to contain the 
Martlaps until we uhderstood the 
terrible machines they had left as 
a deadly heritage? 

Tonight we almost hadn't. ... 

I thought of ^teve. 



-THE END— r- 



GUEST EDITORIAL 

By Capt. K. F. Slater 

Iditof, Operatiofl Phatitast, Yoife, .England 



M TOM BOMBS and planet 

LJk siiiasliers! Just what the 
j_ \^ latter are, the reader must 
imagine for himself, authors rarely 
describe them, but only disclose 
their effects. These weapons form 
a goodly part of ' the spacc-war- 
science-fictioii. That the ftirmet 
exists, and that' the latter is a very 
strong probability, ai'e things wliicli 
canriot be denied. But just whether 
they would be tised, or -how much 
use tliey would -bCj are ^ery doubt- 
ful factors. 

To permit their iise^ oni must 
first of all admit the fact of idealis- 
tic and ^annihilating war. Pfersoii- 
aly. I find it hard to apply the 
term idealistic to any war that lias 
occiirted ill the murky past bi inati- 
iinci. The latter adjective is an 
equally doubtful one. 

Wars have certainly been fought 
oil a variety of pretexts, some of 
them vaguely idealistic, but in 
every ca&e where it is pbssible to 
trace the causes, they are fotitid to 
be economic. Empires that have 
been- founded in the past do not 
truly derive from a lust for con- 
qtiest, or any dfcsire to enlighteti 
■tii,fe lieatheti, ' bat fcait utaally ' be 



traced to simple economic factors. 
The .Spanish einpire of Sduth 
America., was based oil nothing 
more than a lust for gold. In those 
same Elizabethan days the Englisli 
seaman was second to noiie- — but 
although often- describe ' as Em- 
pire making, thO'Se seamen' instead 
of attempting to wrest ftoixi Spari- 
ish rule tlie Empire of South Amer- 
ica went' merrily ahead with the 
m.uch more profitable, although 
equally deplorable, African slave, 
trade! And that even after they had 
defeated the Spanish Armada 
which had been sent against Eiig- 
land, not froni any real desire to 
conquer the country, 'but simply to 
spike the guns of the merchant- 
adveiiturer vfhme main source of 
merchandise was frequcHtly goM 
pirated from Spanish galleons. 



AGAIN, the British Empire in 
I. India deri¥es, not from any 
desire to conquer India, but piirely 
because with the break-up of the 
Mogul Einpire, resulting In an- 
archy aiid Civil wM; the commer- 
cial 'Company then exploiting 
India had to have peace in order 



149 



150 

to prosper. Peace could only be ob- 
tained the price of conquest. 

Should your enemy be infringing 
00 your trade, you do not destroy, 
liiin utterly. You just try to break 
him down to your size, or a little 
below. You therefore not only make 
liis markets open to you, but you 
make him one of your markets. 
Should he have an eye oh a bit of 
territory that will give him an ad- 
vantage over you, then you try to 
annex it first. You don't wash it 
right off the map. for if it will give 
him an advantage, it will give you 
one also— no matter how many 
excuses of liberation arc made, 
Tiiat liberation yarn m'as one of 
Hitler's mo^t-played rccord.s, and 
Joe is running him pretty close! In 
fairness, it must be admitted that 
we have our own version of the 
same story. 

It foilcm's that internal use of the 
atom-bomb, except for race suicide, 
is not likely — when everyone can 
use it. And it is probable tliat most 
of the leading figures in today's 
sceae could put on a very nice dis- 
play of atomic fireworks. •Each race, 
creed, or nation, does not desire to 
, utterly destroy their enemies. They 
just ^ cie.?ire an • advantage — eco- 
nomic — over, the rest. No advan- 
tage can be had when the otliers 
cease to exist. Although it may be 
nice politics to demand the use of 
the atom-bomb wlien f'ou are not 
in favour of the present govern- 
ment, or administration is not like- 
ly that ,sudi deniands are made 
.seriously — except in the public eye. 
If it were not that the public 
tliought the use of the atom-bomb 
would be a decisive factor, the 



CAPT. K. F. SLATER 

oppasition would equally likely 
be expressing a strong desire that 
the government should refrain from 
its use. 



THE SAME reasoBing — which 
is doubtless considered falla- . 
cious by many of my readers- — 
teods to me to prove the use of the 
atom-bomb and the planet-smasher 
improbable in space-war. (As an, 
aside, I consider space-war, as nor- 
mally visualised, highly unlikely - 
anyway. Anyone who has had much' 
to do with the .supply lines for a 
military campaign will realise what 
I ineaii ) . 

Frankly, you may consider this' 
editorial to be an iniquitous vilifica- 
tion of mattkind. It is not meant to 
be. It is in,tendcd to show that man, 
in the main, does things because', 
he hopes to get something out of it. 
You-get. ¥ery little out of total 
devastation, if you , are an)''where 
near the norm. The atom-bomb, 
fission-type, has been used twice, 
and altiiougfi it's destructive pow- 
ers did not quite match up to the 
science-fiction fan's expectations, it ^ 
was enough of a ^holocaust to shock 
most humans. The fusion-type we 
expect to be far worse. I do not ex- 
pect them to be used to any great 
extent in the future- — and I base 
my hope and expectation on man's 
very obvious cupidity! If that 
doesn't save us, nothing will! 

And, naturally, if it saves us long 
enough to permit us to get out into 
space, it will probably save all 
those planets that our authors of to- 
day 'SO' happily blast from their 
orbits into flaming death. — Ms 



TALES OF TOMOllOW 



9:30 P.M.. EST Each Friday 



ABC-W 



f ET'S SAY 'IT and get it owtr 
U witli^^-TALES (W TOMOR- 
ROW is the best scienc€-fiction 
'fare- on TV today. We suspected 
this when we saw them do Ted 
Sturgeon's "The Sky Was Full of 
Ship." Then v/e watched I'enn's 
"Errand Boy", and the classic, 
"Knock", by Frederick Brown and 
we said to oursel¥es, "Honey chile, 
tills •airit no coin,ddeiiee, s» let's 
prowl around and find out why," 

Ted SturgeoB seemed tlie logical 
lacl to quiz because we'd just sent 
Mm a fat check for his "Never 
Underestimate, . .'* the veij slick 
contribution to IF which you've no 
doubt already read. 

We went to 9 Rockefeller Plaza, 
buttonholed Ted and asked liow 
come? A rather shy chap. Ted, who 
isn't given to liitting the high Ooteis 
Oft his own clarinet, but here's .what 
we got : ^ ■ ' 

There is a tight little group of 
stf masters wlio have banded to* 
gather under the title of Science 



Fi|tion League ef America. The 
names Ted tossed off with pensile 
casiialness were. Boiiclier, Asimov, 
BrowiL Siiiiak,' Gold, Pratt, De- 
Gamp, Tenn. 

"As good as any names you cati 
ind in the field." said SturgeoH 
toaster of understatement. 

The rest could "be termed history, 
so let's term it history aiid get on. It 
seems this hard core of piire stf 
talent saw wMch way the wiiicl was 
blowing, got togetiier, and tossed 
their collective stf classics into a big 
hat. Theii, as would naturally fol- 
low,- the TV brass started show-* 
ing up, looking for material fot the 
co-axial cable. All paths seemed to 
lead straight to The Science Rction 
League's big hat and soott TVs 
most obtuse producers came to^ re- 
alize wliat rare treasures, it con- 
tainecl. 

But the l)oy.s. (bless tlieir cantiy 
litilte Hearts)- didn't wdfit t© sell 
piece iiieal. Possibly tliey -cottW 
ha¥C gotten more money that way 



151 



152 

but tlie fabulous dozen had sworn 
to stick togettier. 

The result of tli.eir tenacity is 
TALES OF TOMORROW, a TV 
show produced by Mort Abrahams 
and sponsored by a gent named 
Jacques Kreisler who sells watch 
bands and alsO' knows good eiiter- 
taiBincnt when lie sees it. 

We tMflk tlie ■ moral here is 
"Never accept substitutes." Far 
too many TV producers took one 
quick look at science-fiction and 
said, "Hull!, Hopalong Gassidy 
with a ray gun. Sam Spade in a 
diver's helmet." ' 

The tried and true science-fic- 
tion fang could have told them liow 
wrong they were at the very be- 
ginning; that stf isn't something 
any writer can bat out while wait- 
ing for tlie girl friend to straighten 
the seams in her stockings; that 
authors like Sturgeon, Tenii, and 
DeCamp didn't get up there by ac- 
cident but by hard work and a sin- 
cere devotion to the highly spe- 
cialized type of literature which is 
just BOW taking its ' rightful place 
in the great society of letters. 



OF COURSE, anyone familiar 
with the fundamentals of dra- 
matic presentation must coHcede 
that few fiction pieces, even la the 
category temiecl great, will show up 
to advantage in tlitf medium of 
visual presentation, be it stage or 
television. Thus many classics must 
of necessity remain forever on the 
printed page. 

But it is strange also that when- 
ever a good story, stf or otherwise, 



CITATION , 

is of a type to fit visual presenta- 
tion, it almost invariably becomes 
good stage or television ; not fair or 
passable, but .food. So if you draw 
your material from men who know 
their field — in this case, men who 
know how to write the best science- 
fiction- — it is not necessary to twist 
the plot around in an attempt to 
secure drama and suspense. Those 
ingredients are there already, wait-^ 
iiig to be used. It is hard to con- 
ceive even a mediocre adapter or 
director making a botch of Nelson 
Bond's Trial Flight, as an example. 

And liappily, the TV program, 
TALES OF TOMORROW, is not 
plagued with fuzzy minded tecli» 
nicians. The adaptations are skill- 
fully done, the direction is smooth- 
and obviously emanates from a 
practiced hand. The answer is qual- 
ity right down the line — a perfectly 
logical result. 

There is also another point of 
importance here to the true science- 
fiction fan. Ours is a relatively new 
field of literature in that it is on 
trial before millions of people who 
never before heard of it. Quite nat- 
urally, we %vant science-fiction to 
become a liked and waated form of 
entertain'ment. Beyond doubtj 
TALES OF TOMORROW is 
making new friends for our infant 
medium every time it hits the video 
screens. Let's hope that more radio 
and TV people, when seeking 
science-iction for vi&wd and audio 
outlet, make it a point to go out 
aBcl get the best. 

Here's luck to TALES OF TO- 
MORROW. Don't mis.s it. 



SCIENCE BRIEFS 



By Charles Recoyr 



Phftsphoresceiit Muscbs 

IT IS strange to consider tlie way 
in which altogether diverse sci- 
entific discoveries often dovetail. 
The old saying should be, "Science 
Wakes strange bedfellows! Biolo- 
gists have for a long time been in- 
terested in the filienomenon of nat- 
ural pliosphorescence as exliibited 
by fireiies, deep-sea creatures and 
small aniriialcules foiind m fresh 
water. The loeclianisni all three 
types of life employ tO' change 
chemical energy into visible light 
is iiiawelloiisly efficient. Practically 
no energy is lost in heat— rnerelf a 
fraction of one percent— the rest 
appearing as useful light. 
■ One of the major olsjectives of 
the study of phosphorescence in 
fireflies was the acquisition of 
knowledge of the mecliaiiism in or- 
der to improve- ujjoii the effieiency 
of fluorescent lamps and glow 
tubes. This study is still going on. 

But what is unique is rliat the 
scientists concerned are l'>'..'i»uiii-« 
to suspect that there is . Uul i)f- 
tweeii the way phdsplion -> ,-n< c «h - 
curs in living things aiid tli<' u:, - 
hliman rlmscles are trigiv khI htw 
actiiJii! Imagine the stuiiw <,oii. 
liectioii lietwec:ii these t^Ho ipiru- 
tively) unrelated, plienoiHr-na! Ir 
of tea liaiSpeiis that a di-<.<>t,efv 



made ia one branch of science will 
apply to another, entirely dis- 
similar, field. 

The study of the way the Mus- 
cles act is of fundamental impor- 
tance to anyone desiring any mn- 
derstaiiding of the life processes at 
all. Scientists have 90 far begun tc> 

f-it the glimmer of an idei m to 
Dw nerve actions are. basically 
electrical, but the step from nerve 
impulse to muscle' reactioii lias been 
a stumbling Hock for a lofig lime. 
Now it appears tiiat the study of 
fireflies is likely to suggest a lead 
to the right path. 



Insect Wcrld Can't Wi« 

THAT OMMLY poetlc pefSOIl wllO 
had "the insect crawling Di»t 
of the eye-socket, of ttie skull af 
the last man on Earth" will liaw: 
to change his tune soon. Iri flie 
nfiver-ending war between meii Md 
i', sects, it appears at last as tltoiigli 
p.*. an is to get the upper hand. The 
iiKCct world Has countless nBtnbet"& 
of soldiers, but the tiuitiaii worM 
hiis brains. 

There is a famous laboratory in 
C*.ilifoniia devt>ted4o one subject- 
insects ! It is small and urider- 
ifdffed, but it is effieienl, aili tioih 



153 



154 

it have conie a number of discO'V- 
erics that will eventaally influence 
all of our livss. Few pe'ople realize 
the destructiveness of insect pests. 
Hundreds of millions of dollars' 
damage are done each year by in- 
sects to crops, textiles, even metals. 
And. until the Berkeley Laboratory 
started a truly scientific campaigB, 
all the chemical agents in the world 
were able to do no more than check 
their ravages. _, 

The Berkeley Laboratory is dedi- 
cated to the study of insect diseases. 
Insects, CT'eii as you and I, have a 
ferocious enemy in fungi ar^d bac- 
terial destroyers. Farmers, agrono- 
mists and scientists from all over 
the world have sent dead insects to 
Berkeley to determine what killed 
them. Frequently the lab is able to 
pinpoint the killer and %'ery often 
it turns out to be a bacterium of 
some type or anothcF. Fortunately 
the bacterial diseases that seem to 
destroy insects are not harmful to 
humans or animals — and vice 
versa, 

This naturally k;d the lab men 
to consider wiping out insect pe.sts 
with BW — bacterial warfare. They 
first fought the alfalfa caterpillar 
with a filterable virus suspended in 
water and sprayed from ao air- 
plane. The results were- perfect and 
the caterpillars were wiped out in 
one fell swoop. 

Subsequent work has shows that 
viruses of various types are even 
more effective than bactericidal 
componds and, as a consequence, 
the electron microscope, the only 
medium through which viruses can 
be seen, is in constant use. Large 
varieties of ¥iral substances have 
been discovered which are able to 



CHARLES RECOUR 

deplete the insect world, and right 
now a planned propain is in prog- 
ress, designed to practically label 
some virus as a destroyer for some 
insect type, definitely and specii- 
cally. 

The .success of this program %¥ill 
be a great boon to farmers, bee- 
keepers, plant and animal breeders, 
and even to householders. While in 
reality tlie threat of insect domina- 
tion has alway.s been very slight, 
the actual damage done by the 
creatures has been formidable. 
Chemicals have limited applica- 
tion and the best bet wouM seem 
tO' be to ight living fire with living 
fire — use harmless viruses to com- 
bat fearful insects. 

Science is gradfially turning 
from the manipulation of the physi- 
cal environment, the inorganic, to 
the organic. In the biological world 
rather than the physical are the 
greatest chances for new and ex- 
treme advances. And BW against 
insects is one of the outstanding 
new victories! 



Gassy Old Uniferse 

WHEN YOU think of "deep'- 
space", of the regions be- 
tween the remotest stars apd gal- 
axies, you 'think of frightening 
emptiness, of sheer nothingness, 
awesome in its lack of matter. This 
is not e.^actly the case. So-called 
"empty space" is actually filled al- 
most uniformly with vast amounts 
of plain old hydrogen gas. Near 
stars this gas is ionized, electrically' 
charged, and can be detected by 
ordinary telescopic and spectro- 
scopic observation. But neutral, un- 



SCIENCE BRIEFS 

diarged hydrogen cannot be cie* 
fected this way. - 

It tool the new science of "radio 
astroJiomy'* to show up the star- 
tling amounts of hydrog6rl present 
everywhere. First, neutral hydrogen 
makes its presence ktiown by the 
unusual fact that every once in a 
while the electron spin of a single 
atom of hydrogen will be com- 
pletely reversed, and thus it will 
send ottt a feeble pulse of radiation 
—not visible light, but the subtler 
radiatidn of familiar radio Waves. 
Because this pulse is exceedingly 
weak, arid because it occurs with 
such rarity in the life of a single 
hydrogen atom, there Would be no 
hope at all of ever' detecting it if 
li were not for the astounding fact 
that hydrogen is abimclant beyond 
all expectation. •* 

In. a universe measured in hun- 
dreds of millions of light years in 
dianieter, it is known that tlierS 
is approximately one 'atom of hy- 
drogen for every cubic centimeter 
of space! This fantastic density ex- 
plains why radio astronomy in 
this region works. Rarely does a 
single hydrogen, atom pulse out a 
bla.st of radiation, but when count- 
less numbers of atoms are involved, 
they all add up to^ an appreciable 
amount of radiation. 

Huge recepti¥e directioaal an- 
tennas poke their grotesque shapes 
into the sky and, with highly sensi- 
ti¥e fiagers, pick up the tweiity- 
One-centimeter radiation that 
touches their sensitivity. Radio 
astronomy is now able' to mate 
charts and graphs of the radiation 
distribution. What it mean.s is an- 
other matter. What part it plays in 
the structxire of the 'uiiiverse is not 



lis 

fully known but, as has been ineh- 
tioned before, it is very likely that 
these enormous numters of hydro- 
gen atoms profide the fuel for 
warming the stars, and serve as a 
vast "coalpile" for the stellar fur- 
tiaces. It is thi.<i discovery .which 
leads scientists to think that the 
universe is not dying, but rather is 
in a continual state of creative flux, 
tene\¥ing itself and legeneratiog it- 
self witliout end. 

Of course ttiuch raore m'ill he 
learned of these thiiig.s as soon as 
Man can get out of the liaiiiiaefing 
blanket of air that interferes with 
such research and analysis. A 
Lunar observatory would be the 
thing that the m'crage radio as« 
trdtiomer wcriild sell his soul for for^ 
without a three-hunclred-milc blan- 
ket of air to soak off the radio 
•vraves before they touch his aii- 
terinas, he'd be able to tell a great 
deal nitire about what is happening 
a few hundred million light years 
away! 



Architecture— 2000 

ABGintECtomAtLY speaking, peo- 
^ pie are just emerging from 
the Dark Ages! That statement 
is a little strong and exaggerated, 
but it must he .remembered that, a 
mere twenty yean ago, the height 
of architectural style was the imita- 
tion of Gothic horrors, or the dupli- 
cation, of the "California-Spanish" 
bungalow I 

Fortunately there has been a 
widespread incrfease in good taste 
stimulated by the superb designs', of 
modem arcMtecls wlio aire creating 



156 

Beauty and utility without being 
imitative. 

, The use of materials such as 
glass and new synthetic media 
along with stainless metals and the 
combining of such 'structures into a 
natural relationship with their sur- 
roundings lead us to suspect that 
here is 'a glotving future in. store 
for architecture. We can't extrapo- 
late architectural designs to the 
year 2000 but we can certainly 
visualize the trend they are taking 
and from that deduce that certain 
principles will be applied by future 
architects. The spreading-out of 
eomniunities is a certainty. ^ People 
will want then, as now,.J:o take ad- 
vantage of space and mobility. The 
skyscraper (which is now slowly 
dying as an architectural style) 
may have a new lease on life 
through the development of the 
helicopter and the wider use • of fly- 
ing and moving in three dimensions 



CHARLES RECOUR 

which will be a surety of the time. 

As far as materials go, we can 
only suggest that 2000 will have 
many. as yet undreamed of by tis. 
For example, it is irlmost a certainty 
that glass piping will be as common 
then as are iron and copper now. 
Many automatic machines just sug- ' 
gested now will be in use in both 
country life and city life. 

We may get some minor glimpse 
of what the future will be like by 
examining certain, fine specimens of 
contemporary Calif orn,ian architec- 
ture in which full use is made of th,e 
idea of relating outdoors to indoors 
in one complete "living-unit". Peo- 
ple living in places like these are in 
harmony with their environment. 
Nature and Man have combined 
forces. The year 2000 will see 
plenly of that, for by then Nature 
will have been completely tamed 
and function and aesthetics will be 
one. • — Charles Recour 



'The Amazing True Sfory of the Art- 
ist Who Bilked World Art Autboriiies 

The ARTFUL 
FORQER 

HERE IS the almost incredible story of Han 
▼an Mcegereii, a master artist who, by artful 
forgery, made a niulti-million dollar fortune while 
completely £oolin,g some of the world's great art 
experts! . . . It's only one of many unusnal stories 
in the March issue of STRANGE, the fascinating 
new magazine of true, mystery. Ask your news- 
dealer! 



ll!l»llflir!|*li1tli!illlilliMi||i»i!llll!lillllllllllllHII1!llL 

THE 
COMETH . . . 



THE QUESTION an author 
hears again and again is "Where 
id yoH get youl* plots?" Most au- 
thors, in self-defens§,, have a stock 
answer they can toss off subcoii- 
sciotasly, but weVe yet to hear one 
of thegfe answers which is the least 
bit enlightening. 

Thinking in this vein, it occurred 
to us timt a writer's correspondence 
concerning a current braiii-cliiU 
might throw at least a dim liglit on 
the subject. So here's a peek at 
some atithor-letters the postman 
brought us: 

Take the note we received from 
Ted Sturgeon who wrote "Never 
Underestimate." A stor)', inciden- 
tally, which has already been 
saapped up for a coining aiitholog)'. 
Ted .writes: 

"The basic idea for tMs story 
was an extension of known ideas — 
extrapolation— the choice of a sol- 
idly based scientific or social jiEe- 
nomena and a series of humaii 
narratives about their develop- 
ment. The electric motor e%'ol¥es 
into the cyclotron which, logically, 
should produce aii electton tccel- 
erator which operates in a straight 
line instead of a circle. Which is, 
of course, a driv|, for a space sMp. 



Attain tical chemistry has succeeded 
iri --Mrhesizing proteins, which logi- 
( jlk leads to the creatidn of life 
in si»- laboratory and the evolutiori 
(.| u;,'n-niade species suited to a;t- 
tlr- tin: outer planets." 



WELL. LET'S see what Ray 
(The Hell Ship) Palmer has to 
siif about it : 

"Here it is. 1 think you will 
like it. . . 

"Heep fevety stoty tense with ac- 
tioii and hiirnaii interest and gcicid 
characters the reader can, believe in. 
and you will keep Mm on the edge 
of his chair and safely in your 
hands, as a customer. He wants 
tlirills and exciteniBnt. Strange 
things. Other worlds." 

Thus writes one of the adciiowl- 
edged masters in the field. And so 
ivell put that wc arc allowing Ray's 
plug for his own mag, OTHER 
WORLDS, to .stand. 

Ho-ward Browne, whose Twelve 
Times Zero left us a trifle breath- 
less, wrote: 

"I've always wanted to put a 
iiioderB cop into a .situatien where- 
by he is forqed to cope with pure 
science-fiction with only his wits 
arid native shreivdness to f.'»ll back 
on. I'll start the story immediately 
and I*il be just as Interested as any- 
one else in finding out what hap- 
pen,s to^ Mm." 

Incidentally, the conversation 
from which we quoted id our edi- 
torial came. lit a later date after 
Howard's pllif was prfetty well 
foitned. . 



157 



158 

AND NOW a word from the 
fabulous Rog Phillips, author of 
The Old Martians. Rog wrote: ■ 

"I hope you'll like this one, Paul. 
It's somewhat of an experiment. I 
tried to do a problem- story with 
three possible solutions, any one of 
which the reader may take as his 
"'.own. I tiope I succeeded. If you 
don't feel that I did, please, by all 
means, shoot the yarn back." 

We should be so foolish! 

So there you have it. The inside 
dope right from the authors them- 
selves. 



BY THE WAY^-T/ic Postman 
Cometh is our letter department 
and we want some letters. We want 
to hear from you regardless of what 



THE POSTMAN COMETH 

you have to- say, for four words . 
serve as a sort of barometer on 
whether or not we're putting out a 
magazine you really like. For the 
best three letters received up. 
through January 20th, we're going 
to give three original manuscripts ^ 
from the first issue of IF — real coU ' 
lector's items. 

So send us four letters right, 
away. Each one will receive care-, 
ful consideration and if yours is 
one of the three best ones published 
■ you'll receive post haste your orig- 
inal manuscript. And, along with 
the three prize winners, we're going 
to publish as many letters as we • 
have space to accommodate. Don't 
forget : if you want your letter con- 
sidered for a prize it must be -post- 
marked nqt later than January 
20th. (Remember: no matter what 
you say, we promise not to sue 
you!) 



^'Completely Fasonating 



y) 



THAT'S WHAT readers are .saying about 
STRANGE, the new magazine of true iny.s- 
tery. Here is one of the most wnusuai publications 
oil the stands today— a magaziEe devoted to the 
strange and mysterious, the bizarre and the .baf- 
fling, stories you wouldn't believe in fiction but 
which actually happened in real life! Read! 
Prophet Without Honor, Mystery of the Bell 
Witch, The Mm Who Swindled Himself and 
others in the March issue of — - 

STRAXOli: 

Ask for it at your local newsstand! . 



How Many of these Exciting' Nopek 
Do You Want? ,.,J for only U 

HEEE is a list of new and recent BANDI-BOOKS— 
Mysteries, Westerns, Eoniaiicea. Fast-mo¥iBg, exciting, 
top-notch entertainnien.t, in handjr, poelcet-size format, for 
only 20 cents a book— fi¥e complete ani iinabridgcd novels 
for a single dollar! Tbn can't beat it today! Take yottr pick 
■ - and use coupon, on tiext page! Mone'g luidi if nat. satisfied! 



IS, KILLEiS PLAY ROUGH bf Aiam Rins- 
W'lieii Jim Pierce foiind t!ie real 
story behind the simple little gold 
necklace, it was little wonder. tliat_ so 
inaiiy people gambled their lives for 
it! Hard-bmlei aetion! Mystery. 
81. EMPT? SADDLES by AJ Coif. Some- 
where ill the bloody strife . of cattle 
war and .range greed lay the secret 
of Bilrr Pattoii's other self, and he 
had to face strange people and hos- 
tile guns itt crfcier to diseoter it. 
Western. 

II. WITCH'S MOON by Giles JockSoil. At 
ti lonely country hotel a ▼ei'y eun- 
llinf ana ruthless intiTderer was 
weaving liis web, and it was Boyd's 
fate to drive his girl and himself 
right into its quivering, 'terror-rid- 
ien heart , . . Crmp-g. Myatery . ■ 

|3. THE FARO KID ly Ltslie irnenweifl. 
fj-rim, hard-bitten, Lawman Steve 
Reiine¥ant meant to capture the 
Faro Kid dead or alive. But after 
inMiareds of miles in the saddle, he 
fowiid 'tiiat fate- had dealt him a 
gtrafige hand. Western. 

15. the' SIIAT 1 AM by Lewis Grohaiit. 
A Imsty, exciting noTel of Garr Fall- 
son, scoiiadrel amd confidence man, 
and Ills tewipestaottB lovo affair with 
Ihe beautiful and iiotorioBs brothel 
qaeen, Carrie Watson. Love and Ad- 
venture. 

16. OIG ANOTHER GiAVS by Don Cum- 
eron. Martin King, of the Morning 
Becord, was assigned to blast Social- 
ite Eicliard Searle into a felon's cell, 
bat his scandal packed expose was 
leadiiig Kiiig hiiiiscSlf to tlie electric 
chair. Mystery. 



fl. LULIE l)f Joan SItermot. Love and 
beauty in a cottage were all that 
liiilie Warren wanted. But this 
gorgeous child of the tencmeats was 
damned by a fatal allure which 
brought lier heartbreak in peiitliotise 
liixury, Roniance. 

92. THE GIRL WITH THE FRIGHTENIB 
EYES bf Lawrence Lariar. Paula Sniitli 
was talented, redheaded, heantifiil, 
and a fine artist — but her strangs 
disappearance was shrouded by a 
maze of deception, fra«d aiid jawt- 
der I Mystery. 

93. REBEL YELL by Leslie Ernenwein. Lon 
Coiisidine sided with the railroad, 
and found that he. was fighting the 
girl he had fallen in love with who, 
by Hood, was the railroad'a most 
bitter enemy. Western. 

128. PURSUIT by Lowrerite G. lloamaB. 
Because they were smuggling a pre- 
cociotis little millionairess from Sail 
Fralicisco to New York, Ed Mitchell 
and SjWa Fiirness faeed three tliou- 
sand miles of danger witha price 
on their heads. Mystery. 

129. THI HtmiSS OF COPPER IIITTE by 
Paul W. Foirmon. Drake Hughes said 
he'd make Kit Douglas' copppr mine 
pay. And he did — in a waj that bent 
her to his will, broke the baclos of 
men, and shattered the *ery earth 
beneath them. Love and Adventure. 

130. THE DOVf by toberj 0. Safer. 
Beautifiil, young, provoeatiTe, she 
was a graduate of one of .Chicago's 
iiefarious schools lor *'call girls" bnt 
tod Wis© tm her trade. Mystery. 



131. THE LADY WAS A TIAM? by Horrf 
Whittiifton. Gladys Price had been a 
siren who kiMsw many men — -most of 
them were prettj; shady, Bttiie of 

■ theia would talk, •' and one ol them 
had hated 'her enough to iimrder her. 
Mystery. 

132. THE TRAIL RIDER hy Lynn West- 
lond. Bed Ilaniiiton had lieeii an _ 
honest lawman too long, to change. 
So he drew Ms 'gnii, on the side of 
straii,gers, against an old friend §i 
a bitter fight to the death. Western. 

133. BOOT HILL by Westot Clof. With 
a price on Ms head and a gun in Ms 
hand, young Bed Paine was forced 
to take the same road Ms father had 
traveled — -a one-way road to an mii- 
markeci graTe in Boot Hill ! Western. 

134. MURDER IS DANGEROUS by Ssyl 
Leftasoti. Harry Witstow was soBiid- 
iiig for oil, ami ia refii.sing to Iieed 
grim notes of warning that lie move 
on, he was also sotuidiiig liis own 
death knell. Mystery. 

135. TYPED FOR A CORPSE by Alon Priitt. 
Don Carson, ace newslioniid of the 
Chicago Globe, gawe liis eity editor a 
fit and himself a poor life insurance 
risk when lie turned a suicide into 
doable muTder, Mystery. 



136. DAIK CANYON bj- Tex Holt. Two 
tlioHsaiid miles of danger faced this 
wagon train lieaded hf a dude look- 
iBg tenderfoot with a fast gim and 
a quick eye for a woman. Western. 

137. YUCCA CITY OUTLAW by WillioBi 
Hopsoii. One clay Clay Burch'wa.s an 
ordinary cowpoke in love witii a girl, 
the iie.tt day he was a 'veiigeaiice 
seeking outlaw striking like lighte- 
ning at bank after bank. Western. 

138. THE StASS MONKEY by Horry Whit- 
tington. Grinning, glittering, mysteri- 
ous symbol of evil. An exciting new 
story of sex, dope, blackmail and 
nmrder In the lush Hawaiian Is- 
lands by a liarcl-liittiiig author. Mys- 
tery. 

139. THE LADY KILLERS by William T. 
Iroinon. Thrilling, .sensational case 
histories of women murdered in mo- 
ments of passion hy various means 
and for different reasons. By a fa- 
mous police reporter. True mystery. 

MONEY BACK GUARANTEE 

If you do not agree that this is a 
lag bargain la exciting reSiiag, giim- 
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HOW TO r' 
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think of it, 16 fall 
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TODAY-^ 



QUINN pyiLISHINS COMPANY, INC. ' 1-1 

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EVERY ONE TRUE! . . . These 
thrilling stories of strange 
and amazing experiences! 



YOU'VE NEVER read a magazine like 
this one before' Never before have 
you seen a magazine with such fasci- 
nating and thrilling contents. For, here, 
written especially by America's outstand- 
ing reporters, are the most baffling and 
unusual, the most mysterious and stronge 
true stories of all times. In the March is- 
sue, for instance, you'll be entertained 
and amazed by such stories as: PROPHET 
WITHOUT HONOR, the story of "Joshua 
the second" and his fabulous nudist cult; 
MYSTERY OF THE BELL WITCH, a witch 
that did exist and raised merry hell with 
the Bell family of Tennessee; A MAN 
WHO SOLD HIS HEAD, the amusing 
story of an ingenious magician who knew 
some tricks people never saw; and many 
others. . . Ask your local news dealer to- 
day for this "completely fascinating" 
' . At all newsstonds — 35c 




magazine!